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The most unexpected girls night out EVER (complete with tribute to Nate Dogg)

Mar 25, 2011

A week from Saturday I turn 30. I realized I was turning 30 about four months ago in the bathroom of a bar where I was hiding from a guy who Jamie was trying to set me up with. Not sure why it hit me at that moment, but I’ve kind of been freaking out ever since.

The funny thing is, I didn’t realize I was freaking out until the night where my Never-Say-No-to-Champagne Policy was pushed into uncharted territory and the result was, well, a *tad* unlike what one might expect from a 30-year-old woman.

Since that night I’ve been making concerted efforts to:

A) Not go out as much – saves me money and embarrassment!

B) Keep the drinking of the drinkies (drinkie: delicious alcoholic beverage) to four or less per sitting (sitting: dancing and/or flailing my arms like a bird).

C) Only allow four drinkie limit on weekends so I have ample time to recover for work.

Good plan, right? Hey, I can exercise self control. Even when faced with what I was faced with last Friday night…

I was getting over a sinus infection that I’d been working through all week. When Yves-Marie sent out an email to me and several other coworkers plus our new friend, Rachel, reminding everyone she had a babysitter for her 5 year old and therefore we were going out, I happily replied, “Put me down as tentative!” I would *finger quotes* see how I feel *end finger quotes* Friday afternoon, get in my PJs, conveniently fall asleep on the couch watching reruns of the Real Housewives of Orange County, then around 8 text her that I just woke up and am too tired and have lots of fun without me.

Instead, Yves-Marie called me and informed me I WOULD be coming and I would also be PLANNING the whole dang thing because she didn’t know the city well. (Ugh, Suburbanites…) “Must Be Diverse” was her one caveat. She also reminded me Rachel is a full-time student and can’t spend a lot of money.

Sooooo a place that’s not 100% white and sells cheap drinks. Got it (if “cheap” means around $10 -- can’t do much better than that). I told everyone to meet at my place at 7:30 and we’d go to Marvin, then when it got so crowded we all developed claustrophobia we could go to Policy for dancing or Local 16 to enjoy the rooftop or whatever else we decided. I figured I would buy a round to help out Rachel, and everyone would probably be very tired by midnight and then we’d all go home and I could get back to my bed and humidifier.

I wore my fat jeans (after three wears I can pull them off without unbuttoning them -- makes me feel so skinny!), work flats, and a tank top with little rosettes sewn around the neckline. I could not muster up the energy to try to look cute, so I went for casual chic. It’d work for the outdoor space at Marvin, especially since it would be so crowded no one would be able to see what I was wearing.

The girls showed up at 8:30, about one minute before I was going to text “Whoops, fell asleep, y’all have fun without me!” No one had eaten and I hadn’t made reservations. (Ugh, Suburbanites! Why didn’t they tell me they wanted dinner!) We walked to Marvin to see if we could even get a table, but Susan – who Yves-Marie commented was dressed like Nancy Reagan and she took it as a compliment – was not having it. Something about weird food? I don’t know. It was my only idea. So we wandered until suddenly Yves-Marie became wildly excited about a restaurant I’d seen a hundred times but never set foot in – Jin. “This is what I’ve imagined a night out on the city would be like!” she squealed.

Jin has a little Buddha in the window, so you’d think it’s Asian. We walked in and it looked like a high-end club in LA. We sat down at an empty table on a platform near the front, right in the window with the Buddha. The menu offered jerk chicken and plantains. It was the most fusion restaurant I'd ever seen (website describes it as "Asian Caribbean Soul Lounge").  We settled in and ordered our food, and then we noticed that Rachel, Susan, and I were the only white people in there.  Diversity?  Check. 

As we chattered and ate at our little end of the restaurant, we began to feel as if we were the only people in there. You know, you’re having such a good time you just forget other people are around you? I did notice this one guy walking around, maybe a manager, I thought. When he walked by our table I complimented him on his orange pocket square (quite the fashion statement, worn with a baby blue suit, wouldn’t you agree?).

A few minutes later our server came over, leaned in close to me, and said, “The owner would like to send over drinks, what would you like?”

“Wow! Uhhh…” And here is my problem. I never know what to order when put on the spot. If I don’t have a menu in front of me with pre-mixed drinks, I order “something yummy with rum” and then order a “Rum Yummy” for the rest of the night. It’s only ticked off one bartender to date. So all I could come up with was, “Another mojito?”

“Girl,” the server said, “the owner is giving you drinks. Get the good stuff!”

“What would that be?” I wondered.

“Champagne!” she said. Oh, well duh! Champagne it was, all around. One glass couldn’t hurt.

But then a bartender came over with this:

Not a problem, I thought. It’ll be split up between four of us, not even two glasses each.

The owner – who was the pocket square guy – came over to introduce himself. We thanked him and talked for a while, and I noticed the place was filling up with people. But let me tell you, these people were dressed to the NINES. I’m talkin’ 5-inch stilettos, hair done beautifully, tight little designer dresses, blingy blingy galore. We convinced Susan to take off her black cardigan to reveal a ruffled white top with pinstripe skirt, and Rachel also shed her cardigan to reveal a floral tank top. Come to think about it, I brought a cardigan too. The only person dressed appropriately was Yves-Marie, in a purple satin top with black pants and heels. (Ugh, a Suburbanite outdid me in the fashion department? Note to self: ALWAYS look cute.)

The owner had to take care of something, but asked if he could get us anything before he left.

“Ooh ooh! I know! I know! You should get your DJ to do a Nate Dogg tribute!” I said, jumping up and down and clapping my hands.

RIP Nate Dogg

“You know Nate Dogg?” the owner asked.

“Of course! I lived through the East Coast/West Coast War of the 90s!” Ohhhhh no. I was drunk on attention, which is possibly worse than drunk on drinkies. So, when “Next Episode” came over the speakers, followed by “Regulate” (to which I remembered most of the words), I danced like I thought I was a rapper, but probably looked more like Busta Rhymes than Jay-Z.

In my Nate Dogg haze I didn’t realize just how packed the club had gotten. Or that Yves-Marie was staring at me like I was crazy.

“Yooooou are going to get your ass kicked,” she warned me. I looked behind me and saw a sofa full of ladies who were not dancing a fool as I was and who did not look altogether amused with me.

Susan was cowering on our sofa, so to divert attention away from myself I pulled her up and tried to get her to dance in the window with me and wave people in. Worked like a charm! With our awesome dance moves we convinced many a boy into Jin that night. Curious that none of them came to speak to us, but I didn’t think about it too much.

Soon the champagne was gone and I figured we’d go on home. Before I could suggest it, a bartender brought over a bucket of ice, two carafes of juice, and a BOTTLE OF VODKA. Then he mixed drinks for us. At our table. A personal bartender.

I realized that I was nearing my four-drink limit, so I sipped slowly. I also felt bad that we were getting all this attention so I offered a drink to a girl sitting nearby us. She didn’t acknowledge me. Then a couple of girls stepped up on the platform, which was fine because we had plenty of room, and this big, mean lookin’ guy came out of nowhere and blocked them!

“Do we have a bodyguard?” Rachel asked me. It sure looked that way! And would explain why none of those guys had come to see us. Hmm. Okay.

About that time Rachel and I decided to take a bathroom break. We descended into the crowd and pushed our way to the back to stand in the bathroom line. A couple of guys in line smiled at us and tried to start up a conversation. The girl standing behind them was not as friendly.

“I love your dress!” I blurted out. She cracked a smile and said thank you. (I knew this would work for two reasons: 1) The language of fashion is universal and 2) Every woman wants male attention on her.) The guys turned to look at her, and then a stall opened. I got in and out faster than I ever have, and then Rachel and I quickly made our way back to the front of the club.

We stayed until that bottle of vodka was almost gone (don’t look at me, I stuck to my plan) and used our VIP treatment for good when we noticed a girl hobbling in her heels and told our bouncer to let her up on the platform with us so she could sit on our sofa.

I still don’t fully understand what happened that night, but everyone was pleased with my mad girls-night-out planning skillz.  Yves-Marie thinks I have magic hair, but I think complimenting a man on his pocket square can go a long way. Not sure how many pocket squares I’ll see in Austin when I meet my girls B and Lauren there for my big 3-0, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out!

Cutest Redhead in DC Contest (vote for me! vote for me!)

Mar 14, 2011

The Contest: Metromix's Cutest Redhead Contest 2011

The Stakes: $100 to Red Velvet Cupcakery

The Benefit to Voting for Moi: I will use my giftcard to purchase $100 worth of Red Velvet cupcakes and make delicious goodie bags for my launch party. 

Launch party?  Oh yes, I'm putting it down in writing.  I'm redesigning Cupcakes and Shoes!  It's gonna be so great, y'all.  I met with a Web designer last week (more to come on her in a future post) and she so gets me.  But before the redesign begins, I'm going to have a photoshoot with the cherry blossoms!  I just love spring in DC. 

So, go to Metromix, vote for yours truly (No. 16), spread the word, and get a cupcake!

P.S. The voting process is *slightly* confusing.  Go to the end of the pictures and you'll have the option to vote.  I'm "Mary."  Why people insist on dropping the "El" I will never know, but if I win cupcakes I don't really care!

Blame it on the al-al-a-al-co-al-co-Turning 30

Mar 9, 2011

In my mind my Friday night went like this:

I met up with friends Brittany, Yves-Marie, and Rachel for dinner at Co Co. Sala.  We had a few glasses of champagne (there may have been a shot of espresso infused Patron involved, but whatever, no big deal), some wonderful food (including the new Tuna Tartar which is DEEEElish), and hilarious conversation, maybe the funniest of my life (can't remember any of it now, but I was in stitches so I know it was very, very funny). 

Afterwards Brittany and I walked to the Metro, and Yves-Marie told Brittany to make sure I got home okay.  She can be quite motherly toward me sometimes.

Brittany and I enjoyed a ride on the Metro, and when my stop came Brittany told me to text her when I got home.

"But I am home!" I said, laughing at her. 

"Text me," she insisted.

Aww, Brittany was being kind of motherly too.  Totally unnecessary but sweet.  As the door shut I knocked on her window and waved good-bye.  She didn't look amused.  Must be tired from working so late tonight, I thought.

As I walked up the sidewalk toward my building, a passer by said, "Keep goin' honey, you're gonna make it, you're doin' good!"  I thought that was odd and congratulated myself for walking so well in 4-inch heels. 

I got myself into bed and noticed a text from Morgan: "At Napoleon, your bartender is here, come dance!"  I texted her back that I had just gotten home and had a tad too much champagne and was just going to go to bed.

The next morning:

I had another text from Morgan.  "Heart U."  Aww, that's so nice.  Then I noticed a bunch of texts in between her asking me to dance and the last one. 

Morgan: "At Napoleon, your bartender is here, come dance!"

Me: "Omg iu just got home ange us' wanted
        Trell him hew is hotz"

Morgan: "Hahahaha that doesn't make any sense"

Me: "Yes or does
        I an ain't dickie Brain
        No ni
        I. Am seei.g dobke gh iso po n Oi sion
        Double vision"

Morgan: "Are you home? And in bed? I hope so"

Me: "Yes
        Drunk as.s.a. skunk
        Ha kunk skajajasjshahahja

Morgan: "I am LOLing at U!
              Heart U"

So that was my first indication that Friday may have gone slightly differently than I recalled.

Monday, back at work, Yves-Marie, Brittany, and I went to grab a coffee:

"Friday was so fun!" I said.  "We have to do it again."

Yves-Marie and Brittany exchanged awkward glances.

"What?" I protested.

Yves-Marie started: "Let me show you how Brittany was walking to the Metro."  She walked normal, with a touch of sass.  "And now you."  She zig zagged down the hallway flailing her arms like a bird.

"No way, I was walking straight!"

Brittany tilted her head down, looked me straight in the eyes, and shook her head no.

"But I didn't even drink that much!"

Brittany rolled her eyes.  "It got worse on the train.  Do you remember announcing to everyone on the Metro that that girl's rose was stupid?"

I gave her a puzzled look.  Yves-Marie grinned.

"You don't remember this?  Oh yeah, there was a girl -- and she was hood, Mary El, HOOD -- and she was with her boyfriend who had gotten her a rose off of one of those street vendors, and you very loudly told me that her rose was stupid."

That did sound like me.  I get really nervous whenever I'm on a date and those guys with the roses come by the table.  If a guy were ever to buy me one I think I might die of embarrassment.  They are SO AWKWARD.  Almost as awkward as telling a girl who got one on her date that it's stupid. 

"Do you think they heard me?"

"Mary El.  She was about to come over and beat you up.  I was trying to pretend like I didn't know you.  And when you knocked on the window when you got off?  The people in front of me knocked back."

"They did?  I didn't even notice!" I really was not remembering any of this.

"Yes, they did.  And everyone laughed after the doors closed."

Oh my gaaaaaaaaaawsh.  I was that girl. 

"Do you remember drunk dialing me?" Yves-Marie laughed.


"Oh, y'all gotta hear this."  She took out her phone and plugged headphones into it.  Brittany and I shared.

Hiiiiiiiii Yves-Marie.  Just wanted to let you know I got home oka-- eeew, Noli, stop licking in my mouth it's weird!  Go away!  PAUSE  Aaaaaaaanyway, had a great time and I think we should do it more often.  Bye!

"That wasn't too bad," I said, taking out my headphone.

Yves-Marie held up her finger.  "It's not over."

LONG PAUSE Dangit, I think I peed in my pants a little.  You made me laugh, it's not fair.



Hopefully I can keep this under control for the next three weeks until I turn 30.  Not sure if I'll keep acting like a 20-year-old after I hit the milestone, but at least I'm doin' it in hot shoes.

"I'm lizzing! I'm lizzing!"

Gammas Who Dine

Mar 4, 2011

This past Monday I walked into my office and noticed someone had laid out Washington Post Magazine, open to “What Happens When Mean Girls Grow Up?”  I have an idea why it was out (hint: to call out the mean girls in the office), but regardless, it became a topic of conversation amongst my friends, acquaintances, and apparently a lot of others this week.
Before I had a chance to read it, I wondered what does happen when mean girls grow up?  Do they stay mean, as it's the only way they've ever known to get ahead?  Or do the mellow out and realize that being nice to other girls won't mean their demise?

The article suggests they mature and everyone gets along in the end.   Many of the “Alphas,” or Mean Girls – girls who “selectively [pass] along information” and are “driven by external social hierarchies or other indicators of status or popularity” – turn into “Gammas” – women who “share and exchange information, ideas, opinions, contacts and recommendations” and are “guided by [their] internal beliefs, passions and priorities.”
I’ve always been a Gamma.  More specifically, I wanted to be friends with everyone, but then I got to high school and found out not everyone wanted to be friends with me, and my friendliness was actually a handicap to my popularity.  Although I was boy crazy – like every other girl in my school except for one goth lesbian – I always put my friends first.  They were way more important to me than any guy, and that unfortunately made me pretty sensitive when someone dropped me for a boy, or worse, a cooler girl.
I have a theory, with minor scientific evidence to back it up, that we are who we are by the time we’re 15.  I say this because I have several friends that I’ve known since that time, including K, and they are EXACTLY THE SAME.  Exactly.  (It should be noted here that this is why you should never expect someone you’re in a relationship with to change.  It won’t happen.)  (Also, the goth lesbian was a Gamma -- if a little weird -- and when I ran into her a few years ago, now a blonde, Banana Republic wearing heterosexual, she was embarrassed by my memory of her past.  Such things aren't important to Gammas though, so we had a good laugh and changed the subject.)

Of course we adapt to our various environments and learn how to roll with the punches as we get older.  But those personality traits that defined us in high school probably still define us now.  I still want to be friends with everyone, but I’ve learned how to scope them out quickly and find out if they’ll be a friend or foe.  I’m still sensitive, but the hurt feelings roll off my back much quicker than they used to.   I’m sure this part of my personality is seen by others as a weakness; I don’t really care.  Because here’s the difference between grown up Mean Girls and Gammas: Mean Girls will exploit and magnify others’ weaknesses while Gammas will encourage and promote others' strengths.
This was the main topic of conversation last night at the new Dupont restaurant Dirty Martini between three Gammas: me, Sassy Marmalade, and A Single Girl.  We each have been burned or crossed by one or more Mean Girls lately.  After we had a nice trash talk session, we started to really think about this issue in light of blogging.
Social media has been wonderful for us three for many reasons, but we all agreed that the top perk of it was meeting new people, especially girls.  After all, the only reason we were all sitting together was because we all write similar blogs and found each other through Twitter.  It’s a wonderful way to make new friends, and a Gamma can’t have too many of those.
On the flip side, while it’s disheartening to know that Mean Girls who stayed Mean Girls are out there competing with us, it’s more disheartening that they feel like they have to compete, especially by publicly cutting someone down.  Even if the cut downs are subtle, we girls know how it works, and their subtlety just comes off as insecurity.  Why should they be insecure?  Grown up Mean Girls rise to power by sabotaging and intimidating others, so we Gammas should be the insecure ones, right?
Well, maybe just for a minute.  But that’s when we call, email, or tweet our fellow Gammas and get right back up.  Or better yet, plan a joint happy hour to usher in spring! 
You see, the other thing about Gammas is we exude fun, so as we were leaving last night the manager made sure we met the owner, who was thrilled with the idea of being the venue for our happy hour when they open their patio (the largest outdoor bar in DC!).  At A Single Girl’s Valentine’s happy hour, she came up with the fantastic idea to have a drink mixed and named after her, so we asked if Dirty Martini would do the same.  The owner waved his head bartender over to us, and he was excited to come up with something.  When he asked what the name of it would be, there was no doubt in our minds: “The Gamma.”
Details to come!

Hipsters Don't Lie

Mar 1, 2011

As much as I loathe online dating, I keep an Ok Cupid account online because A) it's free and B) eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevery once in a while a "good" one comes along. 
"Good" =
1)  doesn't solely comment on my looks
2)   is employed
3)   is not more than 10 years older than me (and definitely not 20 years older) but not more than two years younger
4)  doesn't spend the entirety of his profile talking about his kids
5)  has no semi-nude photos up, presumably to impress the ladies (it doesn’t) (and please, for the love of all that is good, no crotch shots)
In the past I’ve judged by these standards, as well as various others that included looks, education, occupation, location, hairstyle, fashion sense, height, and teeth, at the minimum.  The one “good” one in the past six months, Astronaut Mike Dexter, made me exert all kinds of energy by texting, emailing, and waiting, waiting, waiting for a single date then mysteriously disappeared out of my life and my Android.  He met the requirements of all the above.
So, when I received a message from The Hipster, who asked me the most interesting thing anyone’s ever asked me over a dating website, I thought, If the square ones aren’t working then maybe someone who doesn’t have those qualities will.
He was cute-ish, described himself as skinny and  5’11”.  His hair was kind of messy in most of the pictures, but it was fine.  He didn’t smile...bad teeth? I worried.  I also worried that he was skinnier than I am [not].  He was 26, three years younger than I am, which worried me because Cute Boy was 24 and it just couldn’t work (he loved pointing out that I was an “older woman,” and after a while, that got old).  He had a job, as an illustrator.  (I decided not to be judgmental and just see it as cool and creative, and good for him for having that sort of job in DC.)  And he talked a lot about some new genre of music I’ve never heard of, electro pop.  Sooo…no Britney? 
It didn’t matter.  I hadn’t been on a date in almost a month and I needed some male attention. 
We made a date for Friday night at Churchkey.  I let him make the plans, because that is one thing I won’t hedge on – the guy must take control of the date.  All day Friday I was kind of nervous, as I always feel before a blind date.  It’s a mixture of being excited about the possibility of meeting someone great, the fear of being roofied and murdered, and the nervousness of figuring out the perfect outfit.  To quell this, I opted to switch out my work slacks for jeans but keep everything else the same.  Put together but not too much thought put into it.  Conservative yet cute.  Effortless and accessible while still being flirty and feminine.  Oooh, well maybe I should change my necklace.  And add some more mascara.  Yes, yes, that is perfect.  Okay. 
I looked at myself in my floor length mirror.  In boot cut jeans, black flats, a 3-quarter sleeve ruffled button down and black sweater vest, I was far from hipster.  He was going to take one look and know it wasn’t going to work out.  I put on my white puffy coat and headed out anyway.
When I arrived at Churchkey, I looked around on the sidewalk to see if I recognized him.  Nope.  It was windy and cold, so I stepped inside to wait.  I finally got a text: “Looking for parking.”  I’m a big believer in making a guy wait, but the other way around?

(Please refrain from sending me comments about what a stuck up beeyatch I am.  Any Southern woman will agree with me, I’m sure.)
I stifled my annoyance.  It was no big deal -- parking is tough on 14th Street on a Friday night.  For the next 15 minutes my stomach flipped every time the door opened, magnifying my ever-growing hunger.  Finally he walked in, wearing ankle length skinny jeans, beat up, black, lace-up ankle boots, a cropped jacket, and some sort of hipster pompadour. 
Oh my gosh.  WHY are we putting ourselves through this?  I thought.  But we both sucked it up.  Well, sort of. 
“It sounds awfully crowded up there,” he said, looking up the stairs with a scowl on his face.
“Yep, probably.  It’s Friday night at Churchkey,” I replied.  I mean, it was his choice to go there.  Surely he must have known what it would be like. 
“Let’s go somewhere else, I don’t like this,” he said, turning toward the door.
“Okay.”  I was confused.  He obviously hadn’t made reservations anywhere, and any bar was going to be packed.  But I followed him out into the cold, wandering aimlessly up the sidewalk toward U Street. 
He wasn’t making any suggestions, so after a while, when I saw Estadio, I said, “Do you like Spanish tapas?  We should try there.” 
Estadio was crowded – not surprising – but the wait was only 30 to 45 minutes.   Not bad at all.  I smiled at him, pleased that we’d found a place.
“I am NOT waiting 30 minutes, let’s go,” he said.
So we kept walking, on up to Saint Ex.
“What about Saint Ex?” I said.
“I know for a fact it will be crowded.  No thanks.”
“Okay, how about Bar Pilar?”
“It will probably be crowded too.”
But he humored me and we looked inside.  Seats were actually available in the back, and for a moment I thought we might sit down.  My stomach flipped again, this time over excitement for the prospect of food.
“I am not in the mood for this,” he said, turning on his heel and walking out.

We kept walking until we reached a little Mexican restaurant that was virtually empty.  I’d passed it before and always gotten the heeby jeebies.  If a place is always empty, that's usually a sign it's not all that good.  The Hipster thought otherwise.
“This looks great!” he said, smiling for the first time that night.  I noticed his teeth were fine, but at this point it wasn’t a relief. 

We had our choice of tables, and I was so hungry I didn’t care that the lighting was green and a telenovela was playing on a TV across the room which I could watch because the walls were mirrored.  The waitress came over and I quickly asked for loaded nachos and sangria.
“Ugh, they do not have good beer here,” The Hipster said. 

That's why you go to Churchkey!!! my inner monologue screamed.
“Just get sangria, it’s fruity and delicious,” I replied dryly.  “Are you getting any food?”
“No, I ate before.”
Normally I would be self conscious to be the only one eating, but I was so over the date, the silences weren’t even awkward.  I just wanted to have dinner and go home.
But for some reason we attempted conversation.  Here’s what we have in common:
1)      The X-Files (which he informed me you can watch on Netflix Instant Play)
2)      Zombie movies (but he has not seen “The Walking Dead”)
That’s it. 
Once we’d both decided we’d had enough, we walked back outside.  He didn’t know what to say, so I filled in the blank: “My apartment’s that way, so, bye!”
On the way home I decided not to blog about the date.  It had been so boring and such a waste of time, and I didn’t want to subject my readers to the details.
But the next day he texted me.
“Hey, sorry if I seemed unfriendly last night!  I’m not used to being out with someone 3 years older, 3 inches taller, 3 times more mature, with their life 3 times more put together, and I felt a bit out of place.  Not your fault! (obviously)”
And that is why you stick to the standards.  For everyone’s sake.