Manhattan Lovers / edited

November 4, 2008

Juliana lay awake in the dark, on a bed so heavenly, next to a man who she thought must be an angel sent directly to her from heaven, but her thoughts were keeping her awake.

She was in New York again, determined to “make it” – for the third time in her life. Only this time, she had found love. A love that made her believe that she and New York were meant to be after all.

Trevor was a writer who she had met at the Starbucks on the corner, between their two buildings.

He would go there to write, and watch people, and get inspired – inspiration which he was constantly lacking.

Juliana would go there for the free WiFi, since she couldn’t afford it after charging her new MAC Airbook to her sole Visa card. She would go to Starbucks and look at celeb gossip, checking out Gawker and what else there was to do in the seemingly busy city.

This time she had been in Manhattan for no more than two months, working as a shop girl at an independent clothing designer’s boutique. The city seemed to swirl like crazy all around her, but she had yet to be sucked in – instead she watched stolen cable on her 27″ flat screen, set up crazy outfits for work the following day, and went to Starbucks, which was, ironically, consistently packed with people, all who said not more than two words to each other – “Seat taken?” – and even that was sometimes drowned out by the incessant ‘klickey-klack’ of keyboards on laptops.

To be so entirely surrounded and yet feel so disturbingly displaced from it all made Juliana a little angry and a little hopeless.

When she finished reading the latest gossip, checking the latest fashion shows on Style.com, and even reading random blogs from old classmates on Facebook – she would people watch. Juliana often sat there, waiting for life to happen, and then it just did.

She saw Trevor. A dark-haired, blue-eyed man, who kept glimpsing over his laptop to look at her.

At first she was freaked out, imagining a stalker-like scenario, but then he lifted his head, smiling at her, showing off his perfect teeth and chiseled features. After a few minutes of stealing glances, he closed his computer and left when she wasn’t looking.

She considered jumping out of her seat and chasing after him, but didn’t want to appear desperate. A tap on her shoulder brought her back to reality and a ‘Seat taken?’ took her right back up to the heavens.

Trevor bought them another round of coffees – his a Tall Americano, her a Skinny Vanilla Latte – and she suddenly felt alive. She felt a connection with someone other than a computer screen and it was exhilirating.

He was 28, a published author working on his second book, raised in New York – Upper East Side, but needed to a find a more ‘real’ scene, so he moved down to Greenwich Village. He used to play piano, doesn’t watch much TV, and spends his weekends walking in the city, discovering places.

Juliana knew it was love at first sight. And although she didn’t confess her TV-obsessed, non-reading, hermit-like ways to this sexy artist, she did tell him about her job and her two previous apartments in New York. And when she started ranting about something irrelevant, which is what she did when she was nervous, he touched her hand ever so softly and asked if she wanted to go somewhere to eat.

They walked half a block with their cute messenger bags in tow – his a beaten up brown leather, hers was a pink Juicy Couture – and she thought they must have looked like a real couple to the strangers around them.

They arrived at a shabby chic Mexican place that Juliana passed on her way to work. During the day the noticeably peeling paint, mismatched colorful furniture and broken door looked downright gringy and ghetto. But at night, with colorful string lights, candles scattered on all the tables, and the smell of good cooking in the air, the Mexican place looked cute, romantic and cozy.

Sharing nachos, fajitas and a pitcher of sangria, Juliana swore to Trevor that she would read his book, her first in 3 years, and he swore he would start watching MTV – just to stay pop-culturally current, for his “material”.

The drunken sloppy kisses started when the check arrived, her Juicy bag felt so heavy she made him carry both their bags while he groped her walking down the sidewalk to his building. The building was two blocks away from hers, a five story walk-up of which they climbed to the fourth floor.

He fumbled with his keys while she kissed him as passionately as she could. When he finally got his door unlocked they fell into his apartment – dark, and smelling of coffee, chinese food and vanilla (thanks to Glade Plug-ins found throughout the place she would later discover).

They eventually made it to his bed, which was surprisingly comfortable, with a mountain of pillows and a cozy duvet which landed on the floor. Their lovemaking was passionate, lengthy, and very satisfying. Liliana hadn’t made love in ages, and this made the wait worthwhile. Trevor was attentive, intuitive, and made her orgasm four times.

They fell asleep all over each other, literally a tangle of limbs, sweaty and exhausted.

When she awoke she felt enlightened. This only happens in the movies, she thought to herself with a smile. Meeting in a coffee shop, a lovers tryst, one that you could only dream about in Paris, a city full of romance, and not in New York, a city full of cynicism, failed idealism, and those drifting, like herself, waiting to be found.

Now awake, she heard the shower running and she was alone in bed. She suddenly felt shy – she was nude, and the large windows all through his apartment let in so much daylight she felt exposed, as if people could be watching from the outside.

She scrambled around his apartment trying to find her clothes, her bra was hanging gleefully off of a lamp in the corner, her pants were found scrunched up on the sofa, and she mistook her sweater for a sweet little area rug by the doorway. When she gathered up her clothes and quickly threw them on, she noticed there was a sudden quiet in the apartment, and she realised that the shower had stopped running.

And then there he was. Trevor was in the doorway, his hair wet, a towel wrapped around his waist and a smirk on his face.

“Did you find your clothes alright?”

Juliana nodded, and noticed a weird feeling creeping up behind her, an uneasy feeling that she attempted to shake off, even just temporarily. Trevor made her coffee, he actually used a coffee grinder and the glossy high-tech machine and made her the best tasting latte she’d ever had. And then she realized what that feeling was.

She suddenly felt like this was all too good to be true. She’d been in New York twice before this, her last sexual encounter was with a busboy at an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, and she heard so many stories about love in New York – most specifically that it doesn’t exist. In one single night she had fallen for a man so amazing, so romantic, so sexy, but what if it was all fluff? A dream? What if when she goes back to her apartment and her heart gets broken again and she’s left alone, again?

She shrugged away the feeling yet again and put down her latte. Trevor walked her two and a half blocks to her apartment, and she was surprisingly calm. They held hands, he even kissed her before she went up to her place.

She wasn’t sure what this would lead to. She wasn’t sure about Trevor or the future or love. She looked in the mirror with happiness, and walked to work with a kick in her step. All she knew was that she didn’t feel alone anymore. Someone had found her.

And that was the only sure thing that mattered.

Comeback Queen

October 20, 2008

Line stared at her two shoe options, as chosen by her styliste, Mona, who declared that both shoes were hot, next season, and dying for her feet.

One was a black strappy and studded pointy-toe Versace pump. The five inch heels screamed “Sex!” and she wasn’t sure if that was the statement she wanted to be making.

The other shoe was a divine silver strappy sandal, a Jimmy Choo, with crystals going up the back of the heel, so delicate, so beautiful.

Either shoe went perfectly with her short, ruffled and layered Rodarte mini-dress – which was the perfect shade of pale pink – not too nude, not too orange, and just the right amount of sheerness. Just enough to subtly show off her assets.

Lina really wasn’t overly perplexed over her shoe decision, but she was definitely trying to waste time, to push off this gala thing she had to go to – the only reason for going was to prove that she still ‘had it’, after all.

But when she looked in the mirror, she didn’t see the sexy supermodel anymore, all she saw was a scared not-so-little girl staring back at her. Asking her if she even had an ounce of “it” anymore.

It was at that precise moment that her best gay boyfriend and sometime hairdresser, Michel, walked into the room. He was wearing an ultra-tight shiny Dolce & Gabbana suit in the same colour as her dress.

“Lina!” He exclaimed in his crap ‘high society British’ accent that he put on when going to high society galas, and also when he was just a little bit too high.

“For Godssakes darling! Put on a shoe and let’s carry on! The car is waiting! The camera’s are waiting! The World is waiting!”

Lina watched his performance and his expectant face, her smokey-made-up eyes glanced at him, making her look mysterious, almost like someone else, she noted.

“Michel… I just don’t know if I’m ready. I mean, really really. I just don’t think so.” She gave him a shrug and looked back at her reflection.

“Look Darling! If Kate Moss can make it back from a little scandal so can you!”

“I guess,” Lina looked at him doubtedly, then posed a couple of times for good measure.

“See! You still got it! Now chop chop! The car is waiting!”

She held up both shoes to him, daring him to pick one.

“Hmm. The black pumps. Sexy.”

Lina slipped on the sex-bomb Versaces and left her home in the Bentley Michel had secured for the Gala Event.

Michel spent the whole ride on his phone – calling, emailing, texting – which allowed Lina to think more about the scandal that led her life to its present tense.

She thought back to when she was a fourteen year-old hot-at-the-moment model, hired for all the Euro runways, by eighteen an internationally known supermodel. Known for her long legs, her soulful eyes, and her lips, which were perfectly full, and whose slight smile made men and photographers weak at their knees – because Lina Minski didn’t smile for just anybody.

At twenty, Lina’s mysterious smile had been on every major fashion magazine cover in the world, and was a host on a modelling competition television show in her native France.

She had met Peter Winstorm at a gala function, she was twenty-two, he was twenty-four, a sexy footballer on some English team, and she fell in love.

Her wedding was featured in OK! and written about in Vogue – after a two-month  honeymoon travelling through Spain, Fiji and the Greek Islands, Lina found herself pregnant.

She spent her pregnancy decorating her two mansions, one in London and the other in Paris, two sitting rooms, two master suites, two baby rooms.

She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Chloe Helene, and whose pictures were also featured in OK! in a ten-page spread. The spread showcased their London home, the life she and Peter had created for each other, and their addition to their family, their gorgeous little girl.

When Chloe was six months old, pictures were leaked to the press of Peter partaking in drugs and other women while partying with teammates.

And although she was beyond embarassed, he promised her it would never happen again, and she forgave him and they moved on.

But two months later, the drugs came back, kicking him off the team temporarily, and only caused him to party and cheat more.

Lina stayed with Chloe at their Parisian home, and Peter stayed across the river in their London home. Lina became a recluse from the public eye, now the papers were rampant with stories about her and Peter almost everyday.

They eventually got a divorce, she kept her Paris home, he kept the London one, and, because of his drug addiction problems, she had sole custody, allowing him monitered visits twice monthly.

This painful and seemingly private family breakup destroyed more than just her heart.

Her body was no longer what she once had. The stories persisted aobout her and Peter for months after the divorce, and the stress had taken its’ toll. She didn’t eat properly, stopped working out and because frighteningly thin for a while. She didn’t dare step outside her property, if she did the paps got another picture of her looking scary and giving newspapers more stories about her.

What hurt most were the allegations of her own drug use, and accusations of being an unfit mother.

Now, almost four years later, most had forgoten about Lina Minski, so much so that even she had found herself irrelevant.

And yet, there she was, in next seasons frocks and shoes, on her way to a fashion gala, trying to prove that she still had “it”, that she was still somebody to see, someone to book for jobs.

Although Lina was never going to be poor again, thanks to a rather hefty divorce settlement, it would still be nice to do something with her life, to show her daughter than her mommy was a sombody to be proud of, not some washed-up has-been.

Lina was being nudged by Michel to get out of her daydream.

“Lina, darling, have a bump – You’ll be more yourself!”

She obliged, sniffing some coke, passing the silver vial back to her friend and smoothing out her hair, getting ready for the paps.

The car stopped in front of the building, in front of the red carpet, which she had begged not to walk, to which Michel insisted that she may not even bother going if she wasn’t going to walk the Red Carpet.

And so, she obliged.

Michel walked out first, allowing Lina a more demure exit out of the car. Lina was blinded for a moment stepping out of the car, and then she was reminded of the old days. Looking beyond the flashes of lights, her seductive pouty lips forming the slightest of smiles that was her signature, pushing her left hip back, extending her right leg out, and giving the paps what they wanted for exactly ten seconds.

Lina allowed herself to be led up the steps with Michel holding her arm, and at the very top, she tossed her head around, getting a high off the extra flashes, oohs, and aahs she received from the crowd and entered the building.

The night was beautiful. She mingled, drank champagne, and ate very little.

She went home late, tucked herself deep under her plush covers and fell into a deep sleep.

A week later, on a bright and sunny Saturday morning, a five year old Chloe ran into her mama’s bedroom with magazines in hand. Shouting “Mama! Mama!” and giggling and speaking so quickly in French that Lina’s could only smile her biggest smile, which she kept only for her daughter.

Lina’s “comeback” had landed all the tabloid magazines, but the satisfaction and happiness in her heart came from her daughter’s face, looking at her mama with all the stars in her eyes. Lina felt happy again.

Spinning Magnolias

September 8, 2008

Magnolia Pettes is a model, a beautiful girl with large green eyes, long blonde streaked hair and a body girls envy and men covet. At every party she is the It Girl, in every room it was like spotlights were only on her, she is the star where ever she goes. She can have any man she wants, any drug she wants, and she can have it now.

The only thing was, at 22 years old, she already felt old – she felt used up.

She was getting sick of the coke binging, sick of feeling slutty the morning after, sick of walking through Yorkville Park at three in the afternoon, getting breakfast at the coffee shop while children next to her were getting there after school snacks.

The jobs weren’t flying in anymore. Her agency called her less and less. Partly because the jobs they were offering her were crap and she kept turning them down, but partly because when she did accept them, she showed up late, high and/or drunk.

No one wanted to book her for modelling gigs anymore – she was only being hired for openings of new clubs and restaurants. Expected to be the ‘date’ of expensive clients.

At the cafe she sipped her coffee through a straw, watching a girl play with her dog. It dawned on her that this girl was probably the same age as her, she wasn’t extraordinarily beautiful but she wasn’t ugly either, she looked like she could have been a student, maybe she has a boyfriend. Her clothes weren’t necessarily front-page worty either – last year’s UGGs with ripped up Rock’s, but this girl, who had nothing better to do at three in the afternoon but play with her little white poodle looked genuinely happy.

And this made Magnolia wonder if she would ever get there.

Her penthouse suite had lose its allure, the sexy baller types with wads of cash they gave her had also lost its thrill.

Nothing seemed to excite her anymore.

Sleeping with the new It club owners was boring now – she could barely fake an orgasm. Her so-called friends were only interesting to her when they were high.

She wondered if there would ever be a normal life for her. She wondered if there would ever be a boyfriend in her life. Maybe even a relationship.

How did she even get here? She half-laughed to herself. A place in her head that she actually wanted a ‘normal’ life with a relationship??

Sadly, she knew exactly how she got here. She just didn’t think that her life would ever lead her to this conclusion, this need of normalcy.

So she stopped.

She slowed down, and she stopped.

Magnolia changed her phone number, not telling anybody her new one. This was so refreshingly weird that it almost frightened her. No missed calls, no searching for a vibrating cell phone in her bag – it just seemed so quiet.

Just peace and quiet.

Rumors started flying about her – she was on a bender. Or in Europe. Or in rehab.

They weren’t too far fetched though – hadn’t she been there already?

She was still going out and partying, but with no phone there was no way to invite her to after parties, no late night booty calls.

Sometimes her friends tried going to her place after the clubs, but she placed her buzzer on DND and her doorman never let them in. It made her look as if she was still partying, as if she had somehwere better to be.

In truth, she was getting to bed earlier so she could wake up earlier, for her 11 am yoga class, three times a week. She was naturally ultra-slim, but she was noticing her body was changing now, sleeker, more strong.

She bumped into a club promoter in the park as she was sipping her coffee through a straw again. The kissed air and he started shouting at her in his fake British accent.

“Hey Magnolia! I’ve been trying to get ahold of you! Where have you been, love? Holiday? You look fantastic!”

She shrugged but thankfully didn’t have to reply because he kept on talking.

“There’s a new club opening darling! It’s called Rehab! Isn’t that so tongue-in-chic? Everyone’s gonna be there – you have to come! I insist! VIP, bottle service, anything you want!”

She half-smiled, told him she would try to make an appearance, which seemed to satisfy him because he jumped on his phone and left.

She felt her world slowly shut down around her. Calls were non-existent, her only contact with the world were the coffee shop employees and her yoga class.

Magnolia sat in Yorkville Park again, this time at 9 am, fresh out of her early yoga class, watching the birds fighting over a piece of bread, and she wondered to herself, “Is this what it feels like to be alone?”

She saw a shadow form from someone standing behind her, hesistantly she turned around and recognized the man’s handsome face.

Paul, an old party friend, a banker type who had married a model. He looked good as ever in his Armani suit and Prada shoes, his dark hair falling over his dark eyes, and she suddenly realised what she looked like. Her own long blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail, no makeup, with her purple yoga pants on. And Paul sat down at the chair next to her.

“What you been up to?” He started. “You look terrific! Pilates?”

“No, yoga,” She said with a smile.

“Oh. Sheniss was a pilates freak.” That was her name, the model wife, Sheniss. Magnolia once pulled out her hair in a bathroom fight.

“So how are you and Sheniss? I heard your honeymoon was in Fiji? Sorry I missed the wedding, I think I was in London on a shoot.”

“Oh no worries. We honeymooned in Mexico. And now we’re in the process of a divorce.”

“Oh my god – I’m so sorry.” Magnolia was surprised that she actually did feel sorry for him.

“No, no. It’s honestly for the best. We, we weren’t very… compatible I think.” He shook his head for a couple of seconds. “Anyway, she moved out, I get my condo back, it’s almost like it never happened. You know, I’m having a dinner party at my place next Saturday, you should come. We could catch up.”

“Definitely, that sounds like fun.” She smiled, she knew she wouldn’t go, but it was nice of him to offer.

She returned to her penthouse, which now seemed extra large and empty now that everything was packed up and moved out. All that was left in the echoing rooms was a couple of rugs, huge, shaggy, luxurious things that she was leaving behind.

She decided there was no way she could really make a change in her life if she felt like she was stuck, stuck in the same place physically.

Her place sold within an hour after it was on the market, at 40% over asking. She immediately put down a deposit on a huge authentic loft conversion on Queen St West – away from the posh little neighborhood she was living in – away from the clubs and people she knew. Her new place was a penthouse, but it felt more true to her now.

Polish concrete floors, exposed beams, original brick walls. It felt right to her.

There was no doorman, but the building had a gorgeous rooftop patio, with gardens, benches and little bonsai trees. It felt like so calm above the busy city. It felt like home.

The Saturday of Paul’s dinner party was her first night in her new home.

The week leading up to the move-in was her and her decorator picking out paint, furniture, appliances, and new rugs – even better than her original ones.

And she even got a job. She had called her modelling agency and informed them she was leaving the business. She got a job at a luxury boutique, the first time in her life working an 8 hour shift was so exhausting for her, but at the same time, exciting.

It was exciting for her to feel normal. She started reading more than just magazines. She was in advanced yoga. And she was doing everything on her own.

She felt empowered. She felt like herself again for the first time in a really long time.

She realised she never actually knew who she was, until she stripped it all away and was alone, all by herself.

But she wasn’t alone anymore.

She was in a relationship now.

With a little brown yorkie named Max.

Magnolia and Max lived happily ever after. For now.

Just Calling to Confirm

August 1, 2008

My friend Josie Rindee is a very busy woman. Her blackberry calendar is completely full from morning until night. An average day for her may look like this:

5 am – Personal Trainer
7:30 am – Work
11:00 am – Work Brunch w/New Client
12:30 pm – Work Lunch w/Existing Client
3:00 pm – Mani/Pedi
6:00 pm – Meet Steve for drinks
7:30 pm – Bikram Yoga
9:30 pm – Dinner w/Girls
11:00 pm – Calvin

This girl does schedules more in one day than I can in one week – and she almost always keeps to her schedule. No joke – there have been times where I’ve been cut off midsentence by Josie telling me that she has to run because so-and-so has scheduled her time starting in 10 minutes. Josie is single, but somehow still finds the time to date more than one man, two in one night sometimes.

She is a machine.

We were having lunch the other day (from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm at Sassafraz), and I grabbed her Blackberry to schedule myself and our friends in for a Saturday night with the girls. Her night looked free until midnight, where instead of a description, a reminder, the only info was “Calvin”. I scanned my mind quickly thinking of a guy she was dating named Calvin, but nothing came to me.

She told me it was a guy she saw a few times week. She canceled that night with him promptly, leaving him a bland message about cancelling, leaving it open for me and the girls.

When our girl night rolled around, we all went to dinner where nobody ate anything, went to a martini lounge, and ended up back at Maria’s penthouse for drinks. Us girls were tanked. There was no way about it. We were all dancing to no music, lounging on couches but really just slightly slipping off of them, and one girl was even lying down on the fur rug talking about life and love and the new shoes she bought.

Josie was checking her phone.

“Joooossss! Who are you texting?” Maria shouted catching the same thing I was.

“No one, no one.”

We let it go, but then we both saw it again. Josie was texting on girls night. Drunk. Drunk texting is the worst. The words never type out right. You can’t read the message coming in. And it just ends up bad. Bad.

Maria ran over and grabbed Josie’s Blackberry out of her hand, scrambling to figure it out and then threw it over to me. Josie half-attempted to get it back, but all the champage she drank earlier was making her move in slow motion, and then just collapsing back in the armchair she cradled herself in.

“Calvin!”

I looked at her across the room and a smile rose on her face.

I read outloud: “Calvin, I’m just calling to confirm our 3:30 am”

Maria started howling, “You’re calling??? You’re texting dumby.”

Blake questioned why she was meeting a guy at 3:30, and Josie just shook her head, still smiling dope-ily.

“You mean, you’re meeting him tonight? After you leave here?”

A short silence filled the apartment. And suddenly a screech from the kitchen:

“BOOTY CALL!”

“You confimed a booty call?” I asked her, trying not to laugh too hard.

Josie finally mustered up enough sobrerity to say her little speech, “Listen ladies. I have so many demands in my life. I have a job. I have to workout. I have a dog. I have my friends. I have my dates. I work.” Josie was counting out her points on her fingers.

“And you know what? Sometimes, I just need to get fucked. Okay? And if we, as women, don’t do this for ourselves – well who the hell can we count on to do it for us? So I schedule sex. So what? At least I know when I’m getting laid.”

Maria was still laughing, “But you confirmed?”

“Emily Post requires you to confirm your appointments at least 3 hours ahead to ensure that all parties are on time.”

We all burst out laughing at Josie’s advice, while she held her head up high, threw on her Louboutin’s, and bid us all good night.

The Ambivalent Man

June 23, 2008

Have you ever pursued a man, a man who flirts with you for months, gives you all the right signals, and then as soon as you’ve gone on a couple of dates, this man starts acting weird? And I mean weird beyond not returning phone calls, but weird as if acting like you’ve got the plague and he really badly doesn’t want it?

Something happened to my friend Carla this weekend. A man who she started dating, who she bragged about to all of us, suddenly didn’t want anything to do with her. And Carla was crushed. Let me start at the beginning…

Carla works as a receptionist at a very important lawyer’s office in downtown Toronto, she sees her share of grumpy lawyers, angry clients, and, amidst them, some very cute guys. One of these very cute guys was a newer lawyer at the firm, who was trying to make it to partner by years end, and always took a minute out of his day (who are we kidding? like 20 minutes!) to joke, flirt, and talk with Carla.

We’ll call cute lawyer guy Adam. Adam and Carla even started doing lunch once a week, usually on Wednesdays when they both seemed to have more time. Adam was also a perfect gentleman who never insinuated any sexual feelings for Carla, never made her feel uncomfortable, and always complimented something about her – her hair, shoes, outfit, her eyes – and Carla loved it.

She became very infatuated with Adam, so much so that she would talk about him at lengths end whenever the girls got together. Everyone always told her to go out for dinner with him, ask him on a date, and she always blushed away and said she couldn’t because she didn’t want to start an office romance.

The romance had already started. Carla just didn’t want to risk putting herself out there and have him say no, she was secretly worried that he was gay because he had noticed her shoes on more than one occasion.

Quite a few months after they first started talking, Adam asked Carla on a “sort-of” date, the kind where someone’s having a party, and it’s going to be ‘all couples’ and he doesn’t want to look single. Carla said yes, but was still worried about the gay factor. After the party, Adam took Carla to a martini bar, walked her to her condo, and gave her a kiss in front of her doorman. Well, there goes the gay theory.

Carla re-lived that memory in her head over and over, and Adam didn’t stop by her desk for a week. Friday rolled around, and Adam stopped by about how busy his week was, Carla batted her eyelashes at him, and was pleased when he asked her to dinner a week and a half from that date.

I scolded Carla when she told me this – you never tell a guy that you’ll go out to dinner with him a WEEK AND A HALF from today – ever!! It makes you look SO available, seriously. But Carla was in la-la land.

Adam took Carla to a trendy sushi restaurant for dinner, he talked mainly about traveling to Italy, his love for black & white movies, and how much he wanted to become partner. Carla sat there nodding, mainly because she was in awe of him as much as she didn’t know anything about Italy, black & white movies, and she wasn’t a lawyer.

After dinner Adam took Carla to his place, and they had sex in so many positions that she lost count. The next morning they went out to breakfast at a local bakery, kissed over lattes and croissants, and Carla spent the rest of the day in a blissed out state while shopping for dresses she thought Adam would like.

Their third date happened two weeks later, again Adam was too busy and Carla was available, they went out to another dinner, another sex session, and another breakfast. It was like they were on a two-week schedule of sex and breakfast, and Carla was starting to think of the future, as many girls infatuated with their boyfriend do.

Carla started telling us girls about how she wanted to marry him, and that’s when I started to get worried about her. Because in between each date, those two weeks without him, she would do nothing. She always stayed at home, perfecting herself for the next date.

After 8 long months of this tumultous dating cycle, Carla started getting nervous. She started caling me up, asking me, “When is he going to get serious? When are we going to get engaged?” But there was nothing I could say to calm her. Really, she had showed him that she liked this relationship the way it was, so why should he offer her any more of him?

But Carla couldn’t stop worrying, she started bringing it up to him on their dates, talking about futures, and where they saw each other in a couple of years from now. They had a talk and Adam said something to her that calmed her right away and I didn’t hear any worries from her again.

Until he stopped coming by her desk altogether. In one month, she saw him twice, on their designated date nights, and she was starving for his attention. She was getting a little moody with him, asking him what was up, and his standard reply “I’m Busy” became not enough for her. They didn’t have sex that night

Then he cancelled their next date. And Carla snapped.

She called his cell phone constantly, trying to figure out what was going on.

And then she called his house phone. A woman answered the phone.

Carla asked to speak to Adam,  and the woman asked who she was.

“His girlfriend, Carla.” Silence. “Hello?”

“There must be some mistake, I’m his girlfriend. Nicole. Are you sure you have the right number?”

“Oh my god – I’m his girlfriend, is this some joke? Is he putting you up to this to break up with me? He can’t do it himself? Every two weeks we fucked in his apartment and now he can’t even break up with me in person? He told me – he told me he was going to marry me!”

Carla hung up. She was furious. She went on a five-day drinking bender, took two weeks off work, and I spent this time with her shopping, spa-ing, and crying with her.

Nicole was Adam’s girlfriend for two years now. It turned out that Nicole was in some type of work that forced her to travel to the New York office every other weekend. Every two weeks. Just like Adam & Carla’s dating schedule. And that was Nicole’s apartment that Adam had been fucking Carla in.

Carla still hasn’t gone on a single date for the past six months. Adam had found himself homeless. Nicole found herself a man who had his own apartment.

The Fine Line

June 7, 2008

I joined my friend Blair for a late brunch today, and I noticed she was definitely wearing her walk of shame outfit to brunch – her hair was slicked back, she was wearing a purple cocktail dress with a light pashmina thrown over the top, those gorgeous new Dior shoes, and her makeup didn’t exactly look fresh. She looked hot, but as any good friend would know, she was doing the walk of shame at brunch, with me.

She started telling me about the guy, some rich Italian man with lots of money, those guys at the club who pull out a money clip full of hundreds, gold jewelry, everything Armani or Boss or D & G, and continue to get bottle after bottle of booze in a reserved booth. Blair was there for some MAC party, and was quickly invited into the Italian’s booth where she drank a vintage Dom Perignon Rose until they closed the club.

All night Italian was telling Blair how gorgeous she was, his job had something to do with fashion, and he kept telling her he would take her back to Italy and dress her in the very latest – evidently there was a Cavalli maxi dress with her name on it back home.

Blair went back to the Italian’s penthouse suite at the Pantages hotel downtown, and she definitely enjoyed herself there. That is, until she work up. She turned over in the luxurious sheets to give her Italian a squeeze, but all she was left with was a piece of paper. The note indicated that he had to catch his flight back to Italy, there was a phone number and a date next week when he was coming back.

She was more than a little stunned – not by the one-night stand – but by the one-night stand who took off before she woke up. A knock on the door twenty minutes later signified that her breakfast had arrived, which the Italian had ordered before he left. And on the tray, next to a bowl of strawberries was an envelope addressed to ‘The Most Beautiful Woman’.

The envelope contained four thousand dollars.

Blair was dumbfounded. A man who couldn’t even remember her name (she didn’t remember his either) had left her enough cash to pay for almost three months rent. There was another note, a simple ‘Buy yourself something nice’.

This one night in Blair’s life reminded me of a SATC episode where Carrie hangs out with the fabulous European friend who hooks her up with another European hottie who also leaves her some cash the next morning. I don’t exactly remember what she did with the cash (I *think* she took it but I’m not sure), but I remember her freaking out over the aspect that this European hottie thought she was a prostitute.

And that also got me thinking.

Where do you draw the line between one-night stand and blatant prostitution?

Women always have the opportunity to get free drinks, free meals, and sometimes free clothing courtesy of a man they meet. Sometimes they know the man for a while, sometimes a day or two, but as women we usually feel that we’re worth it and, why shouldn’t a man spend some of his money on us?

We will resist at first – Oh no, that’s too much, I can get it myself – but men will try and try again and we will give in most of the time. I am all for that. I am no golddigger, I am also not a woman who has ever had a man buy her an extravagant bag for no reason or left her four thousand dollars by the bedside as a thank you for having sex with them. My bf has purchased me a couple of extravagant gifts in the five years we’ve been dating – a Michael Kors winter coat with fur trim, a Bebe fur coat, and, most recently, a John Galliano cocktail dress. But they were always for Christmas, or birthdays, or some sort of occassion – and we are dating, so obviously gifts are something to be expected of.

But when you’re not even dating the guy, and he bestows you with a large sum of cash, wouldn’t you be a little worried? I mean, the practical mom voice in me comes out and thinks – is he some kind of bad business guy who’s laundering money or something? Which really makes no sense and really doesn’t matter as she will probably never see him again.

Does he see her as a prostitute?

What man in his right mind does something like this?

Is it a power game? But who really has the power? The one giving or the one taking?

My thoughts were interrupted by Blair’s cell phone blasting the Kanye/Coldplay song.

Her conversation was short and sweet, something about new shoes, and she ended it with a perky ‘Ciao!’.

“That was Andre.” She told me. She looked guiltily up at me, and then she said something so quietly I almost didn’t hear her in the clatter of the bistro around us.

“I took the money.”

Blair went on to tell me how she sat there for almost an hour staring at the money. She thought of all the pros and cons. Pros being: new shoes, rent paid, new clothes, and maybe another rendevous with the Italian (whose name she learned after calling his cell and hearing his message when it went to voicemail). Cons being: prostitution, does he think she’s poor?, and what would happen to the money if she didn’t take it?.

She was throroughly confused. But then she thought, at the end of the day, what does it matter?

She had a one-night stand, and it wasn’t her first one, this is a man she will most likely not see again, but if there’s an opportunity she would like to, and who cares what he thought of her? She made herself believe that she almost found this money, and when an opportunity of four thousand dollars falls in your lap (or next to your strawberries), who wouldn’t take it?

Before she met up with me she stopped by Holt’s and bought herself the Dior Extreme Gladiators in the Pewter shade, and she wore them out of the store, to brunch, and told Andre about them on the phone.

We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping – and to my surprise, Blair bought me a pair of Manolo Blahniks I’ve been eyeing, the zebra-print D’Orsay pumps, which were not only on sale, but there was one left and in my size!

There may be a razor-thin line between one-night stands and prostitution, but it’s one that is a little blurry, one that is all about what you believe in yourself to be. And if you are an independent woman, who has sex with hot Italians who enjoy showering women with gifts, why not accept them?

And when someone offers to buy you a pair of beautiful shoes, who am I to say no to that?

I just thanked her and spent the rest of the day admiring my beautiful feet.

Settling Down

June 4, 2008

It’s a windy day today, blowing around leaves and garden clippings, random pieces of garbage, and I watched them all swirl together in the middle of the street for the longest time. And then it just settled. I noticed the wind picked up almost a block down the street and more leaves and garbage swirled around. And then it settled again. And the wind was on its way to find something else.

It made me think of settling down in life, settling for what you can get or holding out for what you really want. Does the wind of life pick you up, swirl you around, then drops you and moves on to the next?

I know where I want to go. I know where I want to be. It’s the ‘how I’m going to get there’ that I haven’t quite figured out yet – and probably never will. I find planning and strategizing on how to get your dreams never pans out in the end anyway, things change, plans will change, but as long as the goal is a constant star on your horizon, I believe you will get there. Eventually. It’s bound to happen, right?

A lot of my friends are settling down around me. Getting married, having babies, buying houses – this is the progression of life, it’s what happens when you grow up. But why does it seem that does who have settled down get consumed by this life?  Everytime you talk to them it’s about weddings, babies, houses. There’s whole conversations I can’t have with these people because they will stare at me blankly until I am done, then go on to tell me something cute their dog has done.

My other group of friends are like the swirling wind, never stopping or slowing down, going from one party to the next, from one guy to another, and never ever touching the ground. They live this exciting life and they know everything that’s hot, what’s not, and what’s new before anyone else does. When I’m with these people I get wrapped up in their world, I forget about everything else in my life for a mere second and I start thinking and acting like them – but the second passes and my kid starts tugging on my shirt so I can colour with her.

I’m in between the settled and not settled.

I have found a boyfriend, I have a baby girl, I even have a dog (who’s more of an accessory than anything else), we’re moving into a cute loft downtown – and looking at this little list of things I’ve done, it certainly seems like I’ve settled down.

But I really haven’t.

My heart is still moving, we love to travel, we want to move everywhere and do everything – yet I live in the fear that one day I’m going to end up like all the rest of the ‘settled downs’, getting overly excited about dog and baby poop, and proclaiming my love for a new window cleaner at a cocktail party. Yes, this is the world of the settled’s. If you’ve never entered it, run while you still can.

When does your life and your interests cease to exist because you’ve created a new life with a family? Why does it happen to 8 out of 10 people it seems like? It’s almost a trap and because of this trap I understand why there’s so many commitment phobic beings running around this world. There is seemingly no happy medium that’s broadcast to these people.

It’s either:

a) Get married, have children, buy a house, have a pet, make dinner every night, go to work everyday, yardwork on sunday’s, bbq’s on saturdays, children’s birthday parties, et al.

b) Stay single, party every night, work if you have to, go shopping, go out to eat or don’t eat at all just drink!, travel, no responsibilities except making sure no one steals your shoes/purse, et al.

What about c?

c) Find the one you love, perhaps have his baby, maybe get a pet if you want one, find a home together, continue to date each other when you can, go to new restaurants, go to cocktail parties, go to fun events with the baby, continue to travel, continue to work, and just remain blissfully happy.

I choose C.