Brave and Stupid: Especially with Boys

There is a fine line between brave and stupid, and I like to walk it. I always have.
Maybe not to the extent of this guy, but my actions may spark the age-old debate: “Brave or stupid?”

Climbing trees, going as high as I could, people on the ground looking up with concerned expressions of “That is a broken bone waiting to happen.” on their faces.

Lying to my parents and going to punk rock shows every week by myself, in the wrong parts of town. Some depressed teens cut themselves, I dyed my hair and flung myself into a mosh pit of dudes twice my size and savored the resulting bruises that covered my arms.

Choosing a college on the opposite side of the country where I knew absolutely no one. Taking a 3 day train ride, all by myself, to get there.

Moving to New York City 2 weeks after graduation with no savings and a minimum wage job prospect. Surviving almost three years against all odds, health failures, and lack of security.

Letting a boy I’d barely known 3 weeks move into my tiny apartment with me. Taking precautions toward financial consequences but relying solely on trust for potential personal ones.

safa

[This is Part Three of The Safa Boy Series: click for Introduction,  Part One, and  Part Two]

I know don’t know him that well, but I’m going to let him stay with me while he finds another place, I told my friend Mika over mediocre Japanese food. I’m not going to give him a key or anything, so he’ll really only be there when I am. I know it’s risky, but it’s not like I have anything worth stealing, plus he really seems like a good guy. I really like him, more than I thought I would.

“Did you ever think maybe the reason you like him so much is circumstantial? Because he’s only here temporarily?” she asked, as though guiding me to a grand discovery.

Yes! I said loud enough so that several people looked up from their over salted Miso, Oh, I am fully aware of that. It’s the crazy, temporary, I-can’t’believe-I’m-really-doing-this.-Is-this-real-life-or chicklit? nature that always appeals to me. I won’t lie, I’m totally drawn to the chance we fall madly in love and I join him on his around-the-world journey. I’m a dreamer and hopeless romantic. Besides, I bet I could get a great advance on that book deal, even as a complete unknown with no experience.

If you’ve ever lived with someone, you know such an arrangement is easily more conducive to falling out of love, rather than in. So it will not come as a shock when I tell you he moved in and I did not fall in love. Want five reasons why? #1 He had proclivity for alcohol that seemed to equate it with “the highest form of fun”. #2He preferred to sleep all day instead of exploring New York City.  #3  He sang the most annoying songs- Puff the Magic Dragon, Jingle Bells– repeatedly. #4He left his bag open with contents spilled on my floor, instead of keeping it in the space I’d cleared out under my bed and other inconsiderate things like #5 It was always a crap shoot (pun not intended but I love it) if he’d remember to put the toilet seat down.

And yet I had just as many reasons to enjoy my brand new roommate. #1 He cooked delicious pasta, recipes from his grandmother whom he had recently visited in Italy. #2 He made me laugh in a full body, “I forget the stresses of being an adult”, uninhibited kind of way. #3 There is rarely someone in my life whom I can expect regular back massages from. I have mentioned it before, I have a not-so-secret wish to marry a masseuse. Not only that, the way he said “mass-ah-juh” in his Safa accent was adorable. #4 The afternoon I dragged him out of my bed to go to the Natural History Museum and we spent an hour in the Hall of African Mammals where he told me stories about South Africa, hunting trips with his dad, and gave me a potentially life-saving lesson about the “Big Five” (the five animals that may attack, rather than flee, when they see a human: Lion, Elephant, Black Rhino, Hippopotamus, Water Buffalo). #5 This reason is not “family friendly”. You may, if you wish, use your imagination.

And so when he ended up staying with me longer than I might have expected, I was glad. It was easy, fun, care-free, and I wasn’t taking it too seriously. I wasn’t seeing any trips around the world in my future. However, I did have a trip in my immediate future that meant I’d be gone for the entirety of his penultimate week in town. I briefly considered letting him stay in my room while I was gone, but decided against it. I wondered what he’d do while I was gone, wondered about his last week in NY, but left everything up in the air. Would we talk while I was gone?  How would it be seeing him when I got back and he wasn’t living with me? Maybe he’d find another girl, I didn’t think he would, but couldn’t rule it out as I’d no  longer know where he was spending his nights. It was a trial separation, for the inevitable separation.

Then he texted me not even 24 hours after I’d left, telling me how much he missed me. “I miss you and that’s not allowed. I’m breaking the rules :)” It was the first of many such texts. Text messages that made me feel special. He misses me, I mean something to him. Text messages that made me happy. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Text messages that made me say Yes, I’d really like that when he asked if he could stay with me again upon my return. Text messages that lead me in the exact opposite direction of where I should have been going. I want to visit you in Barbados (the next stop on his trip). Text messages that gave me no inkling of the shit I would discover after my return to New York. He really cares about me. That in hindsight make me shake my head at myself: stupid, stupid, stupid!

[To continue The Safa Boy Series, click for Part Four]

Post Sleep-Over Stress Disorder

I hallucinate my phone is vibrating. It’s in my pocket, I feel it twitching against my leg. The nerves in my leg are lying to me. My phone is stone cold, silent, unmoving. It’s driving me crazy. It’s making me want to eat an entire pint of ice cream. Giving me the urge to watch a romantic comedy and add my own commentary Like this would ever happen in real life. Jesus. Oh of course just when you start loosing hope, he makes a grand gesture, OF COURSE. There’s no way you’d end up together! This is bullshit! Oh fuck you and your 360° kiss in the rain! Lies! Propaganda! LIES!

safa

[This is Part Two of The Safa Boy Series: click for Introduction and Part One

I’m suffering severe PSOSD- Post Sleep-Over Stress Disorder.

Someone slept over. Nothing was defined. Is it a one time thing, or more? Will you ever see this guy again? What the hell is he thinking? Everything is unknown and you feel out of control. You don’t even have control over yourself, oxytocin has robbed you of that. And so you cope by yelling at shitty movies on Netflix instant. This is why I (try to anyway) avoid one-night stands.

I try the typical route of distraction. PSOSD initial treatment: immerse yourself in activities and friends. If I was always waiting for a boy to call, I’d be in fantastic shape. PSOSD drives me to the gym. I leave my phone out of sight, where it can’t fool my nerve endings, and run as if I can escape all thoughts of men. I have no control over their actions but I have full control over myself on a treadmill, and if I run fast enough, the beating of my heart and the heaving of my lungs drown out anything else.

I get back from the gym, sweaty but revived, no longer seeking ice cream or Reese Witherspoon to yell at. I’ve regained control. I glance at my phone and lo and behold, it’s blinking with the text message I almost forgot I was hoping for. That settles it, not a one time thing. Phew, because I don’t want a one-night stand (I never have), I want the full six-week whirl-wind fling my heart is now set on.

PSOSD cured: I see him every day that week. He makes me laugh, whispers sweet South African nothings in my ear, heats up my bed, and snuggles me to sleep. Later he’ll cook me huge helpings of Italian pasta. What more could you want from a mid-winter fling?

Then we enter dangerous territory. He meets my friends. All guys I have dated in Manhattan thus far have failed the friend check. They’ve all embarrassed me, left unfavorable impressions that raise my girl friends’ eyebrows “Really? You’re dating him?” Safa passes with flying colors. “I really like him!” Says my bestie who is very hard to please, “He’s really sweet and really cute. You’re sure he has to leave in 6 weeks?” Yes, yes I’m sure.  Past the PSOSD, the usual freak outs of “Where is this going!?” are a non-issue. It’s ending in 6 (5 now) weeks. The expiration is a comfort, a convenience. I feel in control.

The middle of whirl wind week 4, counting down, he texts me “I need to talk to you, let’s meet for coffee.” Dangerous territory. That’s a set-up to a break-up scenario if I ever saw one. Slashing the 6 weeks in half? Why? We’re having so much fun! So much for thinking I knew where this was going. I brace myself, meet him for coffee. If this was one of the rom-coms I had been yelling at earlier, I would have cut him off before he even had the chance to say anything. But no, I let him speak, crossing my fingers I don’t have to hear another version of “I think you’re great, but…”

“I’m having issues with my housing,” he says. Yes, you’ve complained about that before. “I really can’t stand the people I’m living with now- I have to get out.” Is this some stupid analogy: I need to get rid of my flat-mates like I need to get rid of you? “So I wanted to ask you,” he takes my hand and continues, “Could I maybe stay with you? While I look for another place?” Whoa. Whoa. Was not expecting that.

[Click to continue The Safa Boy Series with Part Three]

Models: Beauty on the Outside, Bitchy on the Inside

I stared at the email in horror. This was not what I signed up for. Who would voluntarily subject themselves to such torture for the price of $30/hr? I got the job off craigslist, I should have known there was something they weren’t telling me. I looked at the e-mail again, hoping I’d miss-read.

YOUR SCHEDULE FOR TOMORROW’S EVENT:

10:30: Everyone arrives at the office, change into Jones New York provided outfits

10:40am: You will be split into teams of 5 (4 models and 1 brand ambassador) and put in cabs to head to your location

Nope, there was no mistaking it.  I agreed to the job a week previously, to work as a brand ambassador for a Fashion Week promotion. $30 an hour? Great. No one told me I’d be the one, single brand ambassador surrounded by professional models. No one signs up to be the fat kid on the playground. The one hippopotamus in a herd of antelope.

I was never the fat kid on the playground. Quite the opposite, I was made fun of for my skinny legs. Fortunately the name “Chicken Legs” never stuck. Even saddling the Freshman 15 no one would ever describe me as fat. Presently I might be described as “tall, thin, blonde.” Sounds like a modelesque description but trust me, I ain’t got the bone structure nor the ability to walk in 5 inch heels.

I arrived at 10:30 and the office was amass of incredibly skinny, beautiful women in their underwear. I closed my eyes and thought off all the straight men who would give anything to be in my shoes at that moment. Then I stripped, hoping no one would notice that my ribs don’t show, and slipped on my black pumps and the provided Jones New York ensemble.

10:40 AM I am in a cab with four other girls. Everything about them is making me believe every stereotype and cliché I’ve ever heard about models.  They are The Alpha Bitch, The Closet Bitch, The Nice One, and The Newbie. I would have called them these names regardless, but I should note that I introduced myself within seconds of getting in the cab, no one followed suit. Thus I never learned their actual names. Self absorbed much?

Alpha Bitch, Closet Bitch, and Nice One were all friends. Newbie was barely 18 and had been in New York for just under a month. She was by far the most striking and tallest but you could tell she was intimidated by the more experienced other three. She kept quiet.

10:43 AM “Yeah, that designer is only casting anorexics.” said Alpha Bitch.

10:45 AM “Michael C. put me in this see-through dress, you can totally see my tits but whatever.” said Alpha, “And OMG they put so much product in my hair yesterday, I had to shower before I could do anything. Nice One, you are so lucky Valerie put you in a wig.”
“You guys are both lucky,” said Closet Bitch, “I’m stuck with Casanova and the outfit totally makes me look fat.” No one denied this.
“I can’t believe Casanova made it to fashion week.” said Nice One. ”
“Yeah, there are so many decoys this year,” said Alpha, “but it’s not like their stuff is that different from the finalists.”
They’ve ignored me this whole time which is fine because I enjoyed eavesdropping and was putting pieces together.
“Are you guys talking about Project Runway?” I ask. I watched the beginning of the season and then got bored but still read the blog Project Rungay (because the boys who write it are hilarious) so I recognized names. Besides, how many people are named “Casanova”?
Alpha Bitch gave me a look that said “Please, as if you don’t recognize us” while Nice One said “Yes, the three of us are walking in the finale show tomorrow.”
I was in a cab with Project Runway models, I stifled a giggle, this is hilarious!

They didn’t look quite like this while I was working with them but it wasn’t too hard to pick them out from the Project Runway Finale.

11:00 PM We arrive at Bryant Park, the sight of the promotion. “So what are we supposed to do?” asked Alpha. They all looked at me. I’m the “brand ambassador” here, not the manager.
“All I was told is that you guys will be walking about Bryant Park like it’s a runway and that I’m passing out fliers as you do that. So uh, I guess, start walking?” 
I know my job, why the hell don’t you know yours? The four of them needed me to tell them what to do. I realized later, models only ever do what others tell them. It’s an incredibly passive job.

They started walking casually, all four in a line, chatting with each other. It didn’t look like a promotion at all, just like four models chatting in the park. It was not a runway walk, not what the client was looking for. That was obvious to me. But what was I supposed to do? It’s awkward they are not doing the job they’re supposed to but you don’t tell Regina George she’s a lazy slacker.

12:00PM Our boss called me and told me to get the models to walk properly.

1:00 PM We were kicked out of Bryant Park. My least favorite security guard in the world, a fat man in his mid-thirties waddled up to me,  “I hate to kick 4 beautiful women out of the park, but I gotta follow the rules- no soliciting in the park” FIVE beautiful women, you asshole. I’m here too! Just cause I’m not a model doesn’t mean I don’t exist! Fuck you!

1:15 PM We all ended up standing on a corner in front of Europan Cafe, passing out fliers. I could see our reflection in the store front windows and was struck by how I didn’t look like a hippopotamus. I was just as tall as half these bitches, the reflection blurred my inferior make up skills, and I didn’t even feel fat. Bonus: I’m not a bitch!

1:20 PM A man says to Nice One “You have a beautiful nose. Most men would comment on your body but I’m noticing your nose.” This was funny, I laughed, but Nice One thought it was the funniest thing she ever heard and couldn’t stop laughing for about 10 minutes.

1:40 PM The models were all in a tissy about getting back to the office by 2. Our boss strictly said to not leave until 2PM, that she spoke to the models’ reps and that was agreed on. I inform everyone of this. The Closet Bitch had been (fake) nice up until now, but with this discussion her claws came out. She yells at me, “I need to get back to the fucking office by 2PM so I don’t give a shit what you say, I’m leaving.” She yelled at me, while we were both in the exact same boat with this disorganized event. I couldn’t believe it.

2:00 PM The mix up with the time was sorted out when the girls spoke to their agents and were told that it had indeed be agreed on that they would stay until 2PM. Bitch did not apologize for yelling at me. The event is over and we are all trying to catch a cab back to the office. We need a van one to fit all 5 of us and it’s taking forever to find one.
Both Bitches are in full form- “This is bullshit! I need to get back now! I have shit to do!”
By this time I was absolutely fed up with listening to them complain. “Well than just go! I need to get back too but if you need to get back so badly you can’t wait 3 minutes for a van cab than just take a regular cab! For fucks stop acting like it’s my fault!”
And they did.
All four of them piled in a regular cab and left me standing on the corner of 5th Avenue all by myself. Not one stayed. The first cab that pulled up to me not 2 minutes later was, ironically, a van. I sat in the back and took a deep breath to calm my anger.

No one I have ever worked with before or since would ever have done something like that, stranded someone alone. It may be the bitchiest thing girls have ever done to me. Maybe it’s karma for stealing that Valentine in middle school.

I hope I never work with models again.  I wish I was the hippo- I would have roared and scared the shit out of those four annoying, selfish antelope.

The Best Valentine’s Day of the Millennium

My locker was the place to be in middle school. Giggling groups of girls gathered there. Boys played it cool, casually leaning against the wall, hiding surging hormones and the accompanying acne behind baggy pants and Nick Carter bangs. None of it had anything to do with me. The buzz of activity and angst was all because Kristina Lau was in my home room. Her locker was next to mine.

She was (maybe still is- we’re not Facebook friends so who knows) the rare type of girl who was popular not merely for looks (though she did have boobs before a lot of us) or athletic ability (though she was on the basketball team) but also because she was a genuinely sweet person. The combination of boobs, basketball, and sweetness caught the attentions of the one or two boys who hit puberty in 6th grade. Once they took an interest, peer-pressure and the herd-mentality of tweens (though “tween” was a term yet to be coined) meant she had a steady stream of admirers. Thus for all visits to my locker,  I was escorted by the clichéd green-eyed monster.

I was a late bloomer: shy, unsteady self esteem, uncomfortable with my body (I didn’t wear a bra until high school), and still wearing clothes my mother (who has not given a damn for fashion since her 1969 mini-skirt wedding dress) bought me. My mantra was decidedly “No one understands me!” and I was not attracting the attentions of anyone, let alone boys. (Maybe with the exception of the guy who played trombone with me in band. I was convinced I hated him, a fact I dedicated many a diary entry to, and we all know what that means.) Show me a person who went through their teenage years without some sort of cliché, does such a one exist?

This is me in my early teens. It’s true. Now you know I’m not exaggerating about my lack of admirers!

Pink balloons bobbled from her locker as I dragged out the books for my first period class. It wasn’t even 8AM and the madness had already started. I couldn’t believe it. Yet today was not a day for envy or feigned “whatever” indifference, today was a day for hope. It was the first Valentine’s Day of the millennium. This was going to be the day some secret admirer of mine revealed himself.

The fact is, until I moved to New York at age 21, this is how I functioned. I lived in my head, concocted elaborate day dreams, and made wishes. Never did anything to help them come true. Passive was my middle name. What started in middle school continued through college. Every February 14th I would fantasize about a flower left on my desk, a singing Valentine from the choir club, chocolates sent to my dorm room. At the end of each day I would swallow disappointment down with a spoonful of whatever-I-don’t-care denial.

And this is me in freshman year of college. Yes, yes it is. Again, no boys lining up, shocking I know!

“Um…sorry, can you move? You’re blocking my locker,” I said to the boy, one of the givers of the sixteen Valentine-grams Kristina had received in homeroom that morning. Swinging my locker open, blocking the sight of balloons and roses, my eyes fell upon the back of a pink envelope. Some one had slipped it through the cracks of my locker. My heart skipped a beat, a smile began to spread across my face. I picked the card up. Scrawled across the envelope in red pen the words KRISTINA met my eyes. My smile vanished and jealousy burbled up in my throat. I slipped the card in a book and, not saying anything, headed off to my next class.

Kristina,

I think you’re so cute. I hope you liked the flower. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Bobby

Bad move, Bobby, you got the wrong locker. I never gave her that card, ruined your one big shot. You got my hopes up Bob, for that my 13-year-old-self had to punish you. She was way out of your league any way, girls like her don’t date boys who play Pokemon.

This year I had a date for Valentine’s. With my boyfriend no less, albeit my gay boyfriend. We would take each other out to dinner, no bitterness allowed, not even smarmy remarks about couples at adjacent tables. I should have known that morning, when we still didn’t have a time and place locked down, that he was going to bail on me; but it wasn’t until a 4PM text that I realized gay boyfriends are just as unreliable as straight ones.

Faced with a free evening, the thought of getting some sushi and taking myself out to a movie sounded like just as good a date, Valentine’s Day and all. I’d let myself forget it when a boy was in my life and my apartment, but I’m happy on my own. Cliché and all.  No fake bravado, no “if I say I’m a strong, independent woman enough times, I’ll actually start believing it.” I am strong and independent: it’s fact.

Finally, a picture I'm not violently embarrassed to share: this is me in 2011
Finally, a picture I’m not violently embarrassed to share: this is me in 2011

Yesterday was the first time since puberty that I spent V-day with a clear head. No wishing on dreams  or hating the romantic  antics of others. I didn’t end up taking myself out (rain check) but instead made dinner and watched Center Stage with my roommate. It felt like back in 5th grade when you got Valentines from the entire class and your teacher baked cookies. Carefree, as sweet as a candy heart. Who would wish for anything more?

Happy Valentine’s Day ♥

Fashion Week in My Backyard

They walk around teetering on stilts. Faces painted with a layer of elaborate make up. Their garb dazzling with sequins, metallic, or jewels that will twinkle under the bright lights. Those who are furry, fur is in this season, look ready to jump through hoops. A car pulls up and an awkwardly proportioned, wacky dressed gaggle piles out.

When the Big Apple Circus comes to town, it sets up camp a mere two blocks from my apartment. Walking home past the big top, some nights I would hear carnival music. But the dogs and horses, clowns and acrobats all packed up their unicycles and left town over a month ago. Since they left, the area has turned into a bigger circus than when an actual honest-to-god circus was here. Why? New York Fashion Week (NYFW the shorthand that everybody uses) has moved from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center. My backyard.

This was an actual outfit in the Moschino SS09 show. I’m really enjoying the striking similarities between the circus and Fashion Week.

Due to the proximity, I’m in the thick of it. NYFW is buying coffee at my local Starbucks (the lines are huge and I don’t think they’re even offering whip cream as an option this week) and getting off the train at my local subway stop. I’ve also put myself in the thick of it. Not only because I love fashion (though I clearly don’t take it too seriously) but also because Fashion Week is an amazing time for promotions. This week I’m promoting the Time Warner Center- the big upscale shopping center in Columbus Circle. It’s a good gig but not as exciting as the kind of work I was getting last fashion week…

I spent the most of Fall Fashion Week at the “Maybelline and CVS Pharmacy Beauty and Fashion Retreat”. That’s a mouthful to say 50+ times a day. The “Retreat” was a pop-up shop in Times Square designed to “make what’s going on at the insider tents accessible to the outsiders public”. The main draw was a free make over but there were also presentations by editors from Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, ELLE, O Magazine and others. I gained a ton of useless information and all season it has been flying out of my mouth: Camel and purple are the colors this season. A red lip will really make you stand out. No, don’t get rid of that dress- longer hemlines are making a comeback. Fortunately I say it all with humor, but sometimes I think my friends wish they could turn off my Winter Beauty and Fashion Insider Tips! button.

And then there was the promotion that left me standing outside the forefront of fashion, surrounded by the most fashionable people in the country, if not the world, looking like this:

I look like a lesbian who just lost 30 pounds and has yet to buy new clothes. I look like a shoplifter who’s going to try to fit a tv under her shirt. I look like…you tell me!

I was promoting Women’s Wear Daily, a fashion insider thread. Some how that was put in conjunction with a Dickies Work Wear promotion. The result was a team of people dressed like bums handing out high fashion magazines. Not only were the outfits pathetically unfashionable, they didn’t even fit well! That brown shirt is a woman’s size medium those pants are size 6 and in danger of falling off. Even an XXS and size 0 wouldn’t fit those attending fashion week. I hate vanity sizing. But not as much as I hate being inappropriately dressed for an event!

My final promotion of the week was for Jones New York. I was the one “Brand Ambassador” working with four professional models. It was quite the experience, let me tell you. And I will tell you, don’t worry, but not until next post!

How My Bike Got Its Name or My Huge Crush on a Safa Boy

Are you growing a beard? I ask him playfully.

I ask this question far too often. In my mind growing a beard means one of two things: you’re a college student or an actor. Therefore when I ask the question I expect an interesting answer: “Yeah, I’m so consumed with work on my thesis on [pretentious topic although it could make the world a better place], shaving seems trivial. Plus I think a beard will make me look intellectual.” or “Yes, I just got cast as Henry V.” In my mind Are you growing a beard is a conversation starter.  In reality it’s far more often a conversation dead-end: “No, I’m not  growing a beard, just lazy.” Ah, lazy, that’s attractive. (Like I should talk. I’m currently in major Fuck Shaving Legs Til Spring mode. But that’s not “written all over my face” so to speak.)

No trouble with attractiveness here, scruff or no scruff. Nor is there trouble with my potential conversation killer; he turns it into the conversation starter I always hope it to be. “I wish I could grow a beard! It’s too sparse, won’t grow properly. Look, I have a patch under my chin that just won’t grow. It’s completely smooth. Feel.”

safa[This is Part One of The Safa Boy Series: click for Introduction

Yes, I am at a bar with a guy who can’t grow a beard. Yes, that means he’s under 21. No, it’s not my first date with the under 21 set. (Remember Trader Joe’s Guy?) Yes, that means I did not learn my lesson. Yes, I touch his face and yes, moments later we’re kissing. I haven’t had a real crush since Sideburns Guy, and that was totally unrequited. I almost forgot how awesome it is to kiss your crush.

_______________________________________________________________

It had been a long weekend. Of working and flirting. Being in the theatre world means working weekends. Fortunately 8 hours of promoting goes by fast when you have a big ol’ crush on a guy promoting not 10 feet away from you. In between sales pitches we play the Get To Know You Game. He’s a “working traveler”, hailing from South Africa, on a trip around the world. So far he’s been all over Europe, now he’s in New York for 6 weeks, next stop Barbados. So you’re a drifter. I say.

During visits to the MOMA in the past 3 years, there is one photograph that struck me more than any other. I don’t remember the photographer, or the title, or even what it looked like exactly. I remember the description: “unknown drifter”. I fell in love with that description and the hazy memory of the image.  Ever since the word and concept of a “drifter” became heavily romanticized in my mind. “Moon River” featured in both “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Sex and the City” only adds to that.

Get To Know You Game continues for about a week. He’s a drifter, world traveler, just my physical type, intelligent, makes me laugh, and has a lovely South African accent.  I’m even more of a goner than I was before. At this point nothing can squash my level of crush and the prospect of a whirlwind fling. Not even when the game reveals he’s NINETEEN. That’s okay, I think to myself. He may be too young to drink, but that’s only in America. He’s not from America so it doesn’t count! Besides, I won’t get too attached, it’ll make the 6 week expiration date easy. This is I HAVE A HUGE CRUSH rational.

On Sunday night, the end of my week, he still hasn’t asked for my phone number. I hand him my phone and tell him I want his. Then I head off to a rehearsal. On the bike ride there my mind is buzzing: I’m not going to see my Safa (that’s slang for South African) until Thursday due to how our work schedules match up.  I have his phone number, I could take a risk here. It would likely be fun, what’s the worst that could happen? Finally a quick debate of passive vs. proactive. All that in the 7 minute ride to rehearsal.

Of course I texted him: Hope your day got better [it was a slow day for sales], if not I want to buy you a drink. Say yes. Apparently having a huge crush leads me to encourage underage drinking… He says yes. I speed bike home and scream at my roommate I’m meeting a hot South African for a drink in 15 minutes, I need something cute to wear but I don’t want it to look like I came home to change! He’s only ever seen me bundled up in a coat! Having a huge crush puts me Silly School Girl Mode, but you already knew that.

You know where this is going: two Stellas and some conversation later, I’m touching his face and we’re making out. Crush still intact. As two drinks in my limit these days (not to make Patti Stanger proud but because I have the lowest tolerance ever and I’m through puking on subway platforms), I’m about  ready to leave.

The bill comes and we bicker about it. I have no cash, he only has a $20.  I said I was buying you a drink. I’m a woman of my word, I say putting my debit card on the table. He hands me the $20, tries to slip it in my pocket, I refuse to take it. No means no! “Fine.” He plunks the $20 on the bar and says to the bartender, “Mate, you better thank her. You just got a huge tip thanks to her being a stubborn arse.” If an American called me a stubborn ass I’d probably get upset. When a South African calls me that, it’s adorable. Also adorable: how this bill got paid (in my mind anyway).

Our adorableness is confirmed by a woman standing outside the bar. A couple kisses standing next to my bike and instead of the standard “Get a room.” she says “I’m sorry, you guys are totally adorable.” She was probably drunk but that doesn’t change the fact.

I unlock my bike and he tells me how awesome it is. Yes, it is! He asks if it has a name. No, it doesn’t. Which is surprising coming from a girl who named her butt cheeks (Hank and Melvin; I was 15). No name has seemed right thus far. “You should call it Jabulani“, he says, “That means ‘Happiness’ in Zulu.” Did I mention the boy is fluent in English, Italian, and Afrikaans? Against all odds the name stuck. I still call my bike Jabulani.

Jabulani pretty much describes my feelings. Happy, tipsy, wheeling my bike with one-handed so I can hold my crush’s in the other. There’s a moment of “So what do we do now?” and it’s pretty obvious what he wants to do. It’s a first date, every other time I send the guy home with a good night kiss if he’s lucky. Tonight I do something I’ve never done before. I invite him back to my place. Got his phone number, made a date, got drinks, brought him back to my apartment- all in less than 6 hours. Apparently when I have a huge crush on a someone who is leaving the country in 6 weeks, this is how I roll.

[To continue The Safa Boy Series, click for Part Two]

Stand Up Sellers and Seducers

The pests of New York City are notorious. Sewer rats, pigeons (“flying rats”), squirrels (“rats with cuter outfits”), bed bugs, cockroaches,  and the guys who sell comedy tickets in Times Square. Tourists fall for their crafty sales pitches, locals avoid them, I fell for one’s charm and good looks.

safa

[This is the Introduction of the nine part Safa Boy Series]

Like bed bugs in a street curb sofa, they infest the area, preying on all those they come in contact with. A walk on Broadway from 42nd Street to 50th guarantees multiple accostings:  “Do you like stand up comedy?” “Want to be part of a taping of a live show?” “What are you doing tonight?” At best they are obnoxious, at worst aggressive to the point where you buy a ticket just so they leave you alone. That’s probably how they make half of their money. The other half comes from sales made by promises of headliners who never show and exorbitant drink minimums they neglect to mention.

times square stand up comedy
Note: this is NOT the guy I fell for. But he is an example of those who sell tickets out here!

But don’t shoot the messenger, it’s not the ticket seller’s fault, he’s just desperate for money and likely unable to get a job anywhere else. Anyone can get a job selling comedy tickets- it’s under the table and solely commission based. This means a lot of them are total weirdos, lack social skills or social security numbers, and/or have no capacity for any semblance of “professional appearance”.

I know all this because I’ve been working promotions in Times Square. Remember my Disney on Broadway days? Well currently I am promoting an Off Broadway show that is nowhere near as successful as The Lion King yet somehow they pay me as much as Disney did. Thus I am exceedingly familiar with Times Square’s many promoters- the Scientology flier team (also notorious), the slinky Chicago dance team, the sketchy guys who promote strip clubs, the sweet Irish fellow who promotes Pandora jewelry, the comedy promoters who’ve been out there since my Mary Poppins days. You’d think turn over would be high but it’s not. New promoters are obvious and often don’t last long.

The moment I spotted him, I was instantly attracted. If you look up “My Type” in a dictionary his picture would accompany this description:

Male. Above average height, 6’+. Fit, slim build. Ample dark hair, esp. black. Often of Italian ancestry. Positive energy. Bright eyes, tangible “twinkle”. Roommates may describe as “goofy”. Possesses uncanny ability to make questionable statements-“I’m a working traveler”; “I’m couch surfing while I look for a place”; “I’m sorta in between jobs”; “I’m a virgin”- sound romantic. Dimples likely, great smile imperative. Will induce outrageous flirting and impaired judgment.

He’s selling comedy tickets and so, knowing what I just told you, I keep my distance. Best to stay away, not risk temptation, merely admire from afar. Eye candy to get me through a shift sounds better than chocolate anyway. The only chance for failure with this plan is that he approaches me. Given my luck, of course that’s what happens. He flashes a brilliant smile at me before opening his mouth to introduce himself. One word out of his mouth and I’m a goner. Looks that make me swoon accompanied by a British? No. Australian? No. ….uh what then? South African. A South African accent. I’M A GONER.

[To continue The Safa Boy Series, click for Part One]