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Weekend Shenanigans: One of my favorite Spandau Ballet songs is "Communication"

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I’m going to fast forward a bit from the last shenanigan.  Perhaps I’ll go back here and there and fill in the odds and sods, but there’s something in me that wants to get with the present.  But I need to rewind just a little first...


Two Sundays ago, I was sitting by myself in the backyard, begging for the hot afternoon sun to bow out.  I tucked my chair closer to the house so I could grab some shade and read my book about The Smiths (“A Light That Never Goes Out”) while the people around me booted up their barbeques and opened another cold one.  This was Labor Day weekend.


Three day weekends are a tricky proposition as I’ve mentioned here before.  Most of my friends retreat to their backyards for family barbeques or leave town.  I get invites but I kind of feel like the old maid who never found her footing and appearances smell of desperation and sympathy.  So, I stay home and read or go to the gym.  Miami Vice if I’m in a particularly dark mood (“Heart of Darkness” is a good episode for this).  I’d already gone to the gym so I settled in the backyard.


I got a text from my brother, the wine maker.  He asked if I would set a bottle of his wine out on my doorstep.  A family friend writes a blog that has some popularity among the kept wives and wannabes in the area.  It actually makes her an income and she gets tons of freebees.  She’d probably throw in a mention of his brew in exchange for a bottle.  I texted back that I’d set the bottle out. 


I wanted to close the door, lock it up and pretend I wasn’t home, but it was so hot out I had to leave the door open to keep the house ventilated.  (I know:  this is sounding like a Penthouse Letter).  Plus, I figured I can’t hide...not even some of the time.  I literally remembered thinking that shutting the front door is shutting the door to opportunity and shenanigans.  And DR needs shenanigans. 


A while later, she came to the door for the wine.  I think she’s about three years older than me.  I was impressed.  She reminded me of my wife with her hair and her outfit.  She was so well put together but not in a Real Housewives kind of way.  I hadn’t seen her since I was a kid...her older brother is friends with my older brother so we’d pass in the hallways on occasion.  I invited her in and she said she couldn’t stay long; she was on the way to her brother’s for dinner.  In the next sentence she told me how sorry she was to hear about my wife.


She stayed for an hour. 


We talked and our words all flowed together and nothing hung in the air.  I had been missing this.


In the conversation, I asked if she’d been to a restaurant I was sure she would know about.  She had heard of it, but hadn’t been.  She said, “Someday I’m going to see if you want to go with me.”


She finally had to leave since she was more than a little late for her brother’s.  But before she left, suave devil that I am, I told her I’d send her a text so she had my number.  She told me she left her phone in the car.  For a beat I thought that was a ploy.  I walked her to her car and gave her a hug.  An awkward hug because, a) I stunk from the gym, and B) neither of us knew what to do, but in a good way. 


I went back inside and turned the Angel game on.  She sent me a text while in her car, outside my house.  I was stoked.


We texted back and forth quite a bit throughout the week.  I tried not to be too eager.  And really, it wasn’t hard to accomplish because I’m getting these terrible pangs of guilt alternating between cheating on my wife or leaving her behind.  This is yet another shitty gift of terminal cancer.  It stays with you.  It’s not necessarily terminal for the loved ones left behind.


But I got such a positive vibe from talking to this woman.  I didn’t want to deflect it and put it into a no-fly zone.  I had left the door open and this is what happens.  Life.


She texted me to go to dinner Saturday.  I said yes.  I contemplated the two days between the text and dinner night like a child considering Christmas.  Am I a friend?  A sympathy date?  Is there something there? 


Not only that, but on Thursday, she asked if I would be her ‘plus one’ for a small time awards show where she’ll be a presenter.  It’s later this month.  So now I’m all confused.  If she has romantic interest, she’d probably want to see how dinner on Saturday goes first, so I’m thinking I’m definitely a friend at this point.  The awards show is late in the month and it seems a long way to plan unless the person you’re asking is in the safety zone. 

Saturday rolled around, at last.  I kept myself busy in the day by giving Tiny Rob (see previous Shenanigans) a ride to work in Laguna.  I cleaned up the house, even scrubbing the bathroom floor...no small feat for a bachelor.  Lifecycle at the gym for 40 minutes and then I realized I hadn’t really eaten.  The non-date/date had been weighing heavily on my mind and I was running on adrenaline and hope.  I stopped off at Von’s for a $5 Friday pound of ham and devoured a few slices once home. 


Blasting the Style Council (Cafe Bleu, English import, 1985.  My favorite song on there is “Headstart for Happiness” or maybe, “Here’s One That Got Away,” with its electric fiddle).  I like having the turntable going when I’m readying for something.


She showed up on time, walking up to the door in a slinky, long black dress which accentuated her daily trips to the gym.  This woman is tall and fit.  But not intimidating.  She smelled nice with just a little perfume.  Enough to hint at her enterance; not a 21 gun salute of Eau d’ Allergy.  Subtle.


We immediately broke into conversation and she took a seat on the couch, making herself at home, like she wanted to hang out for a while.  I was certainly in no hurry and it also allowed me to be the ‘man’ in the room so I declared a few minutes later that it was time to go and that I would drive.


Car rides can be terribly awkward.  When you’ve got someone new next to you and your one foot from that person, the human mind wants to babble and fill the space.  I suppose we both babbled a little but it wasn’t obvious.


The first hour of dinner was good, but a little bland, conversationally.  We had a couple sitting pretty close to us and I think that muted our typical energy.  But I did learn some interesting tidbits.  She was a model in high school.  Not a supermodel, but not a bluff either.  She did real campaigns with real designers and made some money at it.  She did a little acting, even getting a bit part on “Diff’rent Strokes,” which thrilled me to no end.  We had quite a bit in common regarding our high school years.  She missed alot of school because she was so busy in L.A. going on castings.  I missed alot of school because my mom went on a trip to Spain for a month, departing on my 16th birthday.  Neither of us had a desire to go to any of our high school reunions.  Rebellion is a solid bond.


After dinner, she got me a lil’ gelato and we walked around a bit then back to my car.  And to my place. 


I invited her in and we talked some more, the conversation flowing like it should.  I showed her a Spandau Ballet performance (Glastonberry, 2010) which I had saved on my DVR.  She loved it.  Says she listens to New Order (her go to song right now is “Temptation”) and the Police and the Clash when at the gym.  I told her to play “The Magnificent Seven” if she ever drives out to Vegas by herself.  She told me she loved the song.  And back and forth like this for about three hours before  she said she had to get home. 


We stood up, and we now were at our awkward moment where I wanted to make a move but wanted to be a gentleman so I didn’t presume.  We hugged and I took in her perfume.  I walked her to her car and she drove off. 


I wanted so badly to text her, to keep in immediate contact but I wanted to see if she would text first.  And she did a few minutes later.  She had a good time.  I texted that she was awesome, etc. 


And then, a dagger of confusion:  “New hanging out friends.  I love it.”

WTF does that mean?  Is she establishing early that we’re just friends to avoid any confusion on any future meetings?  The ‘f’ word!?!?!? 


I went to bed in a funk.  I should have retired with confidence.  And now I’m in a world of confusion.  To quote the tragically overlooked Duran Duran song “Last Chance on the Stairway,” from the album Rio, “...ain’t not game when you’re playing with fire...”


Sunday, I woke up early thanks to Elsie the cat hurling in the hallway.  Nothing like a 4am puking session to get the bones moving.  Five minutes later I thought of “hanging out friends.”  Well, f that.  I might text her again but I’m gonna take a break and let her know wassup.  Gonna get streets about it, yo.  Dr. Dre with a black and broken heart.  If I were a 15 year old girl, I’d jump all over tumblr and post some sort of useless homemade slogan in defiance.  Maybe with a picture of a tree or the beach in the background. 


Since I was already up, I got in the car about 7am with the sun pushing up and got myself a chocolate croissant.  I was going to punish my sorrows.  I shoulda known better when I got the last croissant in the case.  It might have been yesterday’s.  It was a little stale despite the early hour.  Shoulda got one of them chocolate dipped old fashioned donuts at the place I like.  Now that’s punishment.


I sat at home, drowning my friendship in black coffee and a croissant.  “I don’t need this,” I thought.  Just to mess with me, you guessed it:  I got a text before 9am.  “Off to spin and yoga.  Thanks for fun night!” 


Weird that her ‘friend’ is getting a text this early in the morning.  Maybe the ‘friend’ designation is just her playing it cool.  I know she’s been screwed over a couple times so she’s probably weary and doesn’t want to get too involved too immediately.  I can respect that.  I just need to know where to put my energy.  She also asked me if I wanted to try out a new ice cream place.   I love ice cream.  This one knows my weakest points.  Strategic and precise. 


We texted back and forth through the day.  Again, this doesn’t seem like friend territory.  The most curious text was a link which showed her on a ‘Top Ten Sexiest” list.  I was about to text her a ‘congratulations’ but then looked at the date...2011.  She dug this out and sent it me for a reason, and I don’t think it’s because we’re ‘friends.’  Chick friends text about boyfriends and frozen yogurt and ‘Do you know anyone with a truck?’ 


She tried to play if off like it was all a joke:  “This will make you laugh...”  Will it?  Is that the intention? 


What a curious move.  It reminded me of a scene from the English/original version of “The Office” where Ricky Gervais is in his office, expecting his new co-manager.  He ‘happens’ to have a copy of some trade magazine with himself on the cover positioned so the co-manager has no choice but to see it.  The co-manager looks at it, is subtly impressed, then points out that it’s from a few years ago.  Why was something that old being exhibited? 


I watched some of the Angel game after a little more texting with Date Chick.  She did text that I was ‘plenty sexy,’ so I’ll take it at face value.  I went to the gym, feeling semi-sexy. 


As usual, the gym was pretty empty on a late Sunday afternoon.  Just my speed.  I went upstairs to do some cardio.  There were a couple others there including this one lady who thinks she’s pretty great.  She, however, is not.  I remembered her from another time when she had a loud conversation on her cell phone which took up about 20 minutes of my cardio time.  Being childish, I wanted to do something at that time to show my disapproval.  So, as I was walking out and got within a couple feet of her treadmill, I let out a loud burp and blew it at her.  There was a pause in her phone conversation.  I’m not proud of it, but she had it coming.  I don't know what 'zen' means exactly, but the getting on the exercise bike has become my world of zen.  When my wife got really sick, friends and family urged me to go to the gym so I could blow off steam.  Now, I put on my headphones, listen to music and often think of my wife.  I get in a fog and am delivered back into the world after my ride.  So, loud cell phone talkers are assholes. 


Today, I was on the bike for about 40 minutes before she got on her phone.  It was just the two of us now.  The interior of the gym has brick walls on one side, so this lady’s voice bounced around and through my headphones which I had turned up pretty loud.  I gave her a look but she didn’t care.  She should be on “The Real Houswives of OC.” 


I vowed not to do anything like I did last time.  Rather, I’d use it as motivation and decided I would stay on my lifecycle until she left.  I lost.  She bullshited around, taking breaks, getting on and off the treadmill.  Wuss!  


But, I did stay on my bike, peddling at full steam for a total of 82.2 minutes.  The counter says I burned 812 calories.  I used that as motivation to take down a Miguels’ Jr. Bean-rice-and cheese burrito for dinner.  Real talk.


Sunday concluded with me watching a couple episodes of ‘Dexter,’ season 3.  I received texts from Date Check from the late evening until about 11pm, talking about travelling and how she’s a ‘free spirit’ and how we should pick up and just go anywhere.  I sent her a ‘selfie’ I took of myself while at the gym.  I was stoked with how hard I had ridden and how empty it was in there and the selfie shows all of that. 


She replied that I looked ‘hot’ which gave my lonely little soul a glimmer of hope.  I’m beginning to think she is getting comfortable seeing me as maybe more than a friend and she only needs to digest the idea on her own time, which I understand.  We’ll see. 


I will keep that door open.  And it no matter what, it can lead me out to the gym where I can zone out, thinking about my wife.  Inevitible. 



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Good stuff.

I always am the asshole that chimes in on social dynamics and relationships.....one of these days I'll let a conversation or situation pass without commenting.

From an outsiders perspective I get the inclination you two have something in the works, as you are aware of. As I'm reading from your perspective I keep thinking she simply doesn't know how you feel or if you're ready to "date" because of your wifes passing....I can only assume since you mentioned she gave condolences thus doesn't even know how you've been since her passing. I think she is just finding limits and boundaries with you.

As for the friends line, when in the context of the playful back and forth you're having it's one of those testers and games. I'm guilty and have that in my repertoire. I used to always preemptive strike dropping the word friend in because it always gets the reaction you experienced and is one of many gauges people use based on reaction....probably was an opening for flirty behavior where she maybe expected you to mention it and then you both take off on a define the relationship type banter.

Just go with it and don't over analyze it. You are doing well as is with the situation.

Props on the burp, I find it crude but laughed and have a vivid image while those people deserve it.

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Great advice, all.  Thanks Tank , Arch and Brandon, et al.  The Shenanigans are meant to be disected, so chime in all you want, B.   I read all you write.  A couple other people have since told me pretty much what you wrote, Brandon.  I haven't heard or seen the 'friends' word since. 


We're going to dinner tonight.  DR is 45, but he looks 46, no thanks to the stress over the last couple years.  Lots more gray hair and a few more wrinkles, too. 

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Thanks, I always feel like I'm intruding but can't help myself with helping others and studied this aspect and even coached (used very loosely) other dudes. Luckily, you're a smart and charismatic guy to where I never really jump in. You're a good guy and people are lucky to be around you.

I don't fathom you'll hear the word friend again and picked that up with how much you two communicate....that's simply not friend zone. Because she continued with you in the same manner, I reckon she was merely posting a barrier for herself.

Please continue to make the chick on the phone at the gym uncomfortable.

Edited by Brandon
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Loved this one. Loved the "...not a 21 gun salute of Eau d’ Allergy.  Subtle." line.

As for the friend text, I really think she was using it as exploring tool to see where you where at, like other posters suggest. I used to use the same technique.


It sounds like you two have a great chemistry and definitely something you can build on in time. She really seems into you though. I wish you the best of luck in this endeavor.

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We texted back and forth quite a bit throughout the week.  I tried not to be too eager.  And really, it wasn’t hard to accomplish because I’m getting these terrible pangs of guilt alternating between cheating on my wife or leaving her behind.  This is yet another shitty gift of terminal cancer.  It stays with you.  It’s not necessarily terminal for the loved ones left behind.




DR.....Good stuff as usual. 


Those feelings of cheating will come and go at times. As a relationship builds those feelings become less and less.


I was able to not have to much guilt when I started dating after my wife passed. I knew what my wife wanted for me which was happiness. I was 44 when my wife passed and she knew that I was way to young to be alone for the rest of my life. It was definitely a roller-coaster of emotions at the very beginning though. You will get through them also.

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As always, a great read. I feel privileged to be taken along, so to speak, as you make your way through these situations.


The "friend" description, IMO, was as much for her as it was for you. I believe that early on she was careful not to set the bar too high. If she mentioned immediately that she might be into you, you might have run screaming into the night, never to be heard from again - or so may have been her thinking. She has also been careful not to set her own expectations too high until she figures out how you feel about things. What has happened since has anything but "friend" written on it. What I have read suggests that she sees serious potential in the two of you developing a strong and lasting relationship.


I know that it sometimes feels like cheating, but you can't cheat on someone who is gone from your life. It takes a lot of time to come to grips with that and wrap your mind around it, but you will. You have a large fan club here, not just for your writing, but cheering you on in life. I'm hoping for something great for you, and I believe that it will come.


Enjoy the ride.

Edited by Vegas Halo Fan
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  • 2 weeks later...

Great read, DR. Especially enjoyed this part. 


Sunday, I woke up early thanks to Elsie the cat hurling in the hallway.  Nothing like a 4am puking session to get the bones moving.  Five minutes later I thought of “hanging out friends.”  Well, f that.  I might text her again but I’m gonna take a break and let her know wassup.  Gonna get streets about it, yo.  Dr. Dre with a black and broken heart.  If I were a 15 year old girl, I’d jump all over tumblr and post some sort of useless homemade slogan in defiance.  Maybe with a picture of a tree or the beach in the background.


Between the ongoing excitement and the apprehension you must be feeling as you navigate these waters, I hope you are leaving yourself time for naps.

No matter how this turns out, the fact you’re riding the ride must be good for the soul. Go get’em tiger.

I’ll be awaiting the next installment. 

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Just be careful. No grown woman says "friend" without meaning it. I see some red flags in the story, but hopefully I'm wrong.


And yet you hear people say they want to marry their best friend. Sounds like this is moving that direction on a nice, comfortable pace for both of them.

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And yet you hear people say they want to marry their best friend. Sounds like this is moving that direction on a nice, comfortable pace for both of them.

I definitely agree.

I was just worried that she dropped the "I'm a free spirit" and "friend" a little early on. Seemed kind of like a warning?

Like I said, I hope I'm wrong. And it looks like I am. So that's good!

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