The Making of Albany Eden

When I was six years old, I remember crying hard. It was mostly out of frustration and intense feelings of inadequacy over my funky pedicure. I couldn’t understand it: I was great at coloring within the lines but when it came to applying that Maybelline fast-drying raspberry nail polish, I got more on my skin than nails and what I did manage to get on my tiny toenails had marks and smudges and chunks of cotton in it. Older girls could do it; I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. After several failed attempts, my eyes were so full of tears I couldn’t see clearly and I was wallowing in a pool of my own exasperation. I cried for several minutes.

That’s when my dad came onto the patio where I was sitting in a mess of acetone-drenched red cotton balls. He took one look at my raspberry fingers and the stains all over my clothes and sat down beside me. He really hadn’t ever painted toenails before (as evidenced by his side-to-side brush strokes rather than from cuticle to tip). With stern concentration and a steady hand, he gave me the most beautiful pedicure I would ever have.

Thanks to him, I developed a high esteem for men at a young age. However, as I got older it became more difficult for him to save me from the things that made me sad.

photoWhen I was 16 years old, I met my first love. Jackson was cute, Midwestern, athletic and one of those popular guys everyone likes to be around. In high school, I was the serious studyholic too prissy to smoke a cigarette or miss a homework assignment so I loved the way being around Jackson made me popular too. We would have intense discussions that would last all night. He made me mixed tapes with Paul McCartney and even handcrafted many lovely gifts for me including a wooden jewelry box and a needlepointed keychain. I trusted him completely. I thought we would be together forever. Then, when we ended up in different universities, a girl from my high school contacted me to tell me that Jackson was cheating with a white trash bimbo named Dawna. Up until that day, I was unfamiliar with the feeling of betrayal from a man. I cried for weeks.

When I was 26 years old, after many years alone, I started what would become a serious relationship with a former work colleague. Julien helped bear the burden of stress from life and took care of me. A woman who goes from her father’s house to the sorority house to her husband’s house might not appreciate this but I had been doing things on my own for years; his attentiveness and helpfulness were much appreciated. After we had been together for over three years, I decided I would surprise him with a romantic island vacation so, one day when he was in the shower, I went on his PC so he would come out and see the resort I had chosen on the screen. I started typing in the URL but then mistakenly pushed ‘enter’ on a strange site that appeared in the history. I was not at all prepared for what I saw. Julien, who that same week was begging me to start a family, had an online dating profile and was chatting with multiple other women. I cried for months.

*     *     *

Most of the men you read about in my Dating Catastrophes came after these three, who shaped me. Luckily, only one of the three matters and he is the one who gives me faith that great men do exist.

My dad left this world much too soon. Of all the men for whom I cried, only he truly deserved it. Remember that the only men worth crying over are the ones that will love you enough to stop your tears, not cause them.

 *     *     *

Where are they now?

Jackson: He called me multiple times every day for two weeks and I never took his calls. After time passed, he made a few attempts on MSN Messenger to reconcile. I never saw him again.

Dawna: I checked her facebook page (which is completely public) and Dawna today cannot be recognized as the cute girl she once was. She married a guy physically comparable to her and I wish them all the best.

Julien: He never got over the breakup and made multiple efforts to get back together. I do not return his messages. One person said it best, “trust is like an unlit match, once you burn it, it goes away forever.”

– Albany Eden

Gliding into Friends: The Pisco Sour

Whenever I start dating a man I think I could really like, two things happen. First, my mind is flooded with a series of highly inappropriate questions my brain cannot filter. Second, I order a new cocktail for the first time and secretly associate the flavor with the man. This allows me to relive moments with him long after I have scared him away with a ridiculous interrogation.

“Are you gay?” This time I endeavored to keep the question to myself.

Brandon had soft skin. He was stylish, did yoga and made a point of telling me he went to a “hair dresser” (not a barber). Yet, he seemed interested and our first date lasted five hours.

“What would you like?” he asked.
“Hmm, pisco sour, that sounds good.” True to form, Brandon would thereafter be a pisco sour to me: sweet, strong and laced with some flavors I cannot identify but that I think I like.

I was lost in his eyes as he told me about his passion for the opera. I never realized how interesting something I previously cared nothing about could become when it came from his mouth.

“And I got these new shoes from Berlutti, I’d love to break them in for the first time at the opera with you.” Just when I thought I had him figured out, he made me wonder again.

My concern was appeased with a surreptitious graze of my thigh…but wait, was this gesture due to carnal attraction or him trying to cop a feel of my Chanel tweed? I figured if he was into fashion, at the very least, we could have a good conversation. So I asked his advice on a future purchase.

“Well, my favorite color is turquoise, but if it’s something you’d be wearing, I’d love to see you in red.” I loved how he dignified all the silly things that were so important to me with a serious response from him.

Weeks later, we had another dinner filled with awkwardly honest conversation.

“In the hospital after the horseback riding accident, I completely lost bladder control because of the concussion.” I could not believe what had just come out of my mouth. This time he grazed my thigh and it was for sure deliberate.
“But you don’t have that problem anymore, right?” We both laughed. With him I needed no filter. It was nice.

The waitress came to take our orders.

“I’ll have the salmon,” Brandon said.
“Sorry, no salmon today.”
“All right, then I’ll have the salad nicoise”
“We’re out of lettuce.”

After some more back and forth, we identified one of the few items on the menu still available; we both had cheeseburgers. And I, a pisco sour.

“I was kind of nerdy as a kid, I would play video games every chance I got,” he revealed. It was endearing.
“Haha, Dungeons and Dragons, you and my brother would have gotten along!” I liked teasing him because then he would smile.
“I would like to take you to a very special wine bar I love. It’s in the Marais, you know, the gay neighborhood.” He said, matter-of-factly.
“Sure, sounds great!” I decided not to over-analyze his second sentence. We took a cab and when we arrived at the destination, Brandon briskly sent the cab away. On the wine bar door read a sign “Closed for the holidays.”

“Oh no Brandon, looks like we won’t be going here after all!”
“Don’t worry, I live just around the corner. We could have some tea at my place,” he suggested. If he did in fact live around the corner, I wondered how he didn’t notice the sign before.

Although he looked great that night and maybe had earned it, I wasn’t about to reward this kind of sly technique—if it in fact wasn’t a chance occurrence. As we parted, no hand holding, no kiss…then I wondered if he really did just want me to come over for chai tea lattes and to read his Colorology book. I put the thought out of my mind.

As time went by, we continued to see each other and I eventually did make it into Brandon’s apartment. I was pleasantly surprised. It was well decorated and neat…although he didn’t believe in curtains at all—even in the bathroom where his shower door was transparent! Weird as I might find it, this was something I decided I could address later or not at all.

“You like pisco sours right?” he asked with a devious smile. I wondered if he had figured out my rule.
“I looove them, thank you!” I was mesmerized by his muscular forearms as he squeezed the limes and I almost forgot my bursting bladder.
“Be right back, bathroom’s over there, right?” He nodded and I got ready to put on a show for his neighbors. In the sleek modern bathroom, I couldn’t help but wonder if Brandon belonged to another alpha female. The temptation to investigate was too great. I scanned the counter. One toothbrush–and it was blue. Hallelujah! No tampons. No depilatories. No hair scrunchies (although this was a little annoying because I am pathologically scrunchie-less and wanted to wash my face). I was feeling increasingly relieved as I noticed the masculine bathroom products—I could even forgive the loofah but then I saw…IT.

It was just sitting there in the drawer, the possible answer to these questions I had been asking myself about this wonderful man still single in his thirties. It was like road kill—something I couldn’t bear to see but had to look at long enough to properly identify it.

The little orange foil packet read “Gliding into friends” and on it were two male symbols artfully intertwined. As I picked it up, I realized this hot potato had to be handled with finesse; but a passionate woman often lacks this quality. Packet in hand, I left the bathroom and approached him. I figured the best way to deal with the gay lube was to toss it right on the surface where he eats breakfast. I wanted some explaining.

“Relax, I got it as a gag from a party. It’s not like I bought a full tube, it’s just a sample!” I wanted to believe him. His dancing eyes made him look capable of mischief but somehow his explanation appeased me. I think this finding with any other man would have me running for the hills but Brandon knew how to hold onto me.

He put the pisco sour up to my lips and it tasted good. I stayed over that night and learned, once and for all, that he only had eyes for women, and, more specifically, this particular one.

Sometimes we ask silly questions because deep down we already know the truth…and it scares us.

-Albany Eden

I Speak Boy!

Do you ever wonder what he really means? Here are twenty things men have said to my close girlfriends or to me, with the Albany Eden interpretation:

WHAT HE SAYS WHAT HE THINKS TO HIMSELF
I’m not ready for a relationship. I don’t feel like enough other women have seen me naked yet.
I’m too busy with work to see you. And I choose to spend the little free time I do have with someone else.
We have no future. You’d make a nice second wife.
[During the first date] What’s your ideal man like? …You know, I think I could love you! I’m a sociopath.
I like your face and your body. …and that’s it! This was not a compliment.
I never realized how attracted I was to you. I used to think you were ugly.
We can’t see each other anymore because I need to focus on my new business. My inability to give you an orgasm is something I would rather shy away from than address.
Oh no, I didn’t get your message. Of course I got it. And ignored it. Why are you making this awkward for both of us?
You are the only woman I can have an intellectual conversation with and be attracted to. There is no one else at this precise moment, in this time zone, to keep me occupied.
Fine go ahead and go; I can get lots of girls! You’re the only one who will call me back, please don’t leave me!
[after one casual coffee date] Your Facebook pics gave me nice dreams last night. I am sexually starved. Do not leave your pets or houseplants alone in my presence.
Only pathetic losers count the number of women they have been with… …And I have been with 46!
My ex and I are good friends… …with benefits and I’ll run back to her the moment she forgives my sorry ass
I’m busy this weekend with a lot of work. You will never be a priority.
Sorry I didn’t call you earlier I’ve been sick. And it turns out you’re more tolerable than the others I’ve been seeing.
Can we keep being soul mates without being in a relationship? Most people only use 10% of their brains, I’m only capable of using 1%.
There’s nobody else out there like you. Please give me your undivided attention while I keep sleeping around.
That kiss six years ago was the kiss that lasted a lifetime. I will never make any effort to see you again.
I took this selfie in the mirror and could barely fit my package into the photo. Objects in mirror may appear larger than they actually are.
My soon-to-be ex and I are basically broken up. Now I have to get home, she’s ovulating!

– Albany Eden