Posts Tagged ‘friends’

About two weeks back I was feeling pretty down, and wrote about it here (Feeling Charlie Brown).  I was feeling particularly low about the lack of opportunities for socializing in my life, and while I can certainly entertain myself quite well most of the time, I do have a side of me that craves the kind of human interaction that involves being around people you like being around, who also like being around you.  It’s something that I think a lot of people take for granted, but I can testify there can be paths life takes you down that leaves you with a dearth of those opportunities.

I mean, take the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival that travels around the East Coast and made a stop in Richmond this past weekend.  I’ve written about it here before, and every time I thought about the festival, it just sounded like a helluva good time.  Who wouldn’t want to go?!  Well, apparently the vast majority of my friends, which just left me perplexed, on top of being bummed.

Thank goodness for friend and fellow blogger beautifulmess7, who rode to my rescue!  Even though she had plans with her family for late afternoon, she agreed that a Beer, Bourbon & BBQ festival sounded like a helluva good time and said she’d love to go with me if I didn’t mind getting back in time for her to make family gathering.  The event was open from 2 – 6pm, but I figured if we got there at 2ish and were taking shots (err… samples) of bourbon with some frequency that a couple hours should be plenty of time if we didn’t want to be crawling ourselves out of there.


I thoroughly enjoyed myself!  The event was just as fun as I’d hoped it would be, and beautifulmess7 was the perfect partner-in-crime to enjoy it with.  She said it was a lot like wine tasting events, though I suspect a slightly different crowd was here for the bourbon.  I wouldn’t say it was rowdy, but it was definitely lively!

There were a ton of bourbons to sample, and beautifulmess7 ran around and tried each booth right beside me.  Most ranged from decent to delicious, though we did encounter a couple stinkers that actually forced us to dump them out.  There was even a token Vodka booth which felt a little like a fly in the ointment, but my liberal sense of inclusion prevented me from getting too offended by its presence.


This certainly seemed like an odd pairing, but… we love dark chocolate and we love bacon… two great tastes that go great together… maybe?  The very first time it hits your taste buds it’s odd… but it quickly grows on you and by the time we left I made sure to pick up a bag.


Early on there was apparently a place you could get your glass dipped in wax like they do with Maker’s Mark bourbon (see the glasses in the pic above) but we didn’t find out about it until they’d stopped doing it.  We also heard about some sort of clear bourbon that Jim Beam was featuring, that was apparently selling for quite the premium, but we were assured that it just tasted like regular ol’ Jim Beam.  When we went by the Jim Beam booth they’d run out of it.


I bought this late in the day when I had a good buzz going and my silly-buying-inhibitions were low.  Just seemed like a funny shotglass that I had to own.

The bourbons I recall being particularly yummy:  High West Double Rye (High West makes bourbon out of Utah!), Buffalo Trace Distillery Small Batch, Maker’s Mark (of course), and Knob Creek Rye.  There were others that were good too, but those made an impression through the buzz that crept up on me.  Maybe beautifulmess7 can chime in with some of her faves in the comments?


These guys had a fun booth with a wheel you could spin for silly little prizes.  Their bourbon however was mediocre.

I have to say it was so nice to have beautifulmess7 there with me.  She was fun, we chatted and laughed the whole time as we waited in line, circulated around, or sat for a bit listening to the live music.  She was more than willing to sample everything with me, and she easily struck up conversations with other festival-goers.  As it got late in the afternoon and we made our way to leave, I could tell she was up for staying longer if she hadn’t had other plans.

We took a taxi ride home with a hugely entertaining cabbie, who was from the Eastern Shore of Virginia and had us both craving seafood by the time he dropped us off.  I got beautifulmess7 a big glass of water and we sat in the AC and cooled off a bit in my living room and chatted while she made sure she was okay for driving.  It was just delightful talking about all sorts of things, a perfect cap to a really nice day.

To add to such a nice weekend, I’d been able to get some bonus time with my kids the night before.  My sister and her kids were coming through town and staying with my step-mom for a couple days, and it had been a really long time since our kids had had “cousin-time” together (she has a daughter and son too, and they’re all around the same ages).  It wasn’t my weekend with the kids, but their mom agreed to let me pick them up and stay the night over at my step-mom’s house.  We had a great time catching up, and I taught my niece and nephew to play Settlers of Cataan with my kids, and helped my 7 year old nephew win the first game.  He was hooked!

So last night before heading to bed, I was just feeling really great and put this up on my Facebook page before letting all the busy-ness and bourbon carry me off to slumber…


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Hi folks, I realize that I left some of y’all with a bit of a cliff-hanger a few weeks back when I wrote about finally getting together with my old friend JL for dinner after not seeing each other for years and years.  So anyway, here’s a quick recap of the evening…

I get a text from her about an hour before we’re supposed to meet and she says, according to her GPS, she’ll be about 15 minutes late.  No problem I tell her, drive safe and I’ll see you there.  I decide to head on over at 6pm to grab a table since we are meeting at a pretty popular Mexican restaurant at dinnertime on a Saturday.  I pause outside to send her a text saying that I’m here, but then see that she’d already texted me that she got there early and has nabbed a table already and tells me where in inside she’s sitting.

Again, I marvel at how nice smartphones are for socializing!

As I approach the table she hops up to wave me down, and then gives me a big hug.  She’s still beautiful– tall, lovely figure, and a smile that lights up the room.  The waiter arrives right on cue and she orders a margarita– a gal after my own heart!  I order the same, and we start with some small talk as we glance over the menu.  When the margaritas arrive they’re sufficiently large and sufficiently strong, and after we place our orders we start talking about life, the universe, and everything.

You know when you have a friend that’s just so easy to talk with?  Me and JL seemed to have that going on.  Our dinner and conversation lasted two and a half hours, talking about old times, our lives, my kids, her boyfriend, our exes (she was previously married too), books, movies, television shows, politics.  We chatted for so long I had to order another margarita!  Honestly, I think we could have gone on for longer but I thought that perhaps her boyfriend might start to worry about her, so I reluctantly said goodbye and we promised to get together again soon.

Oh yeah… there was also the matter of the gal she knows that she wants to set me up with!  We talked a little bit about her and she sounds like a sweet woman who has apparently been a bit unlucky in love.  JL said she was about ready to give up on men– Oh no!  I said, don’t give up!  I mean, I’ve been about as unlucky as you can get and I still hold out hope for love and romance.

Anyway, JL mentioned that she’d seen my Facebook event for this year’s Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival in Richmond.  After not being able to rustle up anyone to go with me last year — an utter tragedy — I made a Facebook event for it several months in advance and will be beating the drums and sending out notices to all my friends to round up at least a few of them to go with me.  JL mentioned that maybe she could bring her friend with her that weekend and they could go with us– sounded like a plan to me!


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A couple months back an old friend had gotten in touch, saying she was going to be in town visiting some friends and wanted to know if I could meet up with her so we could catch up.  I met J.L. many years ago when she was the freshman roommate with my sister, and instantly liked her.  She was brainy, quiet, a bit shy, and totally adorable and attractive without even realizing it.  My sister– who was a bit of a wild child at the time — kinda brought her out of her shell, and a few weekends a year I visited my sister we all would party and have a great time.  J.L. and I struck up a friendship and wrote letters to each other for a little while.  I even still have a picture catching us on a quick midnight kiss for New Years.

Eventually J.L. and my sis took different paths and didn’t hang out so much, and I lost touch with J.L. (though my sister kept in touch).  Fast forward a couple decades and now we have Facebook, wonderfully getting us all back in touch with friends we lost track of over the years.  When I saw J.L. post something on my sister’s wall, I sent her a friends request, hoping that she’d friend me back, and was thrilled when she did.  I was curious to see where life had taken her.

Well, turns out that J.L. is still brainy — she just got her doctorate — and is still totally adorable and attractive.  We love lots of the same books (and sent each other book recommendations), have the same politics, share a similar sense of humor… in short, just a really awesome woman.  So I was really looking forward to meeting up with her before — not for possible romance (for those of you wondering), she has a boyfriend — but just because, as I talked about before (Paradigm Shift) I want to expand my circle of friends and JL is Good People!  Not only will it be great getting reacquainted, but who knows who I might meet through her?

Unfortunately our meet-up falls through… I had wanted to take the kids to see The Hobbit, and it turned out the best time for them ran right into the meet-up time with JL… I texted her when we were done, but she was winding down and wouldn’t be up too much longer.  “We can try again another time,” she said.

So it looks like next time will be… this Saturday!  We’ll be meeting for dinner to talk and catch up — for me it’s Splurge Saturday, so we’ll be going to Plaza Azteca for yummy Mexican food and maybe a margarita– and then later I’m going to meet her at a bar to watch her boyfriend’s band perform (he actually lives nearby).  I love watching live music — and occasionally performing it!

And to make things extra intriguing, she recently left this in the comments of one of my Facebook status updates:

I need to mosey over to your blog. BTW, I’ve a gal you might wanna meet. *GRIN* We’ll talk … I’ll be good.

My response, naturally…

Hee hee, the plot thickens….

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I’m pretty sure I’ve written here before how having children so dramatically changes your perspective, not least of which has to do with regrets you may have had in life.  The steps you took in life, even the steps you may have regretted, ultimately led you to the path that brought your children into your life… and every day I see these wonderful little souls, these amazing lives that are growing and becoming more and more independent and curious, with dreams and hopes for their futures, I realize that even a slight deviation in my path to them might have prevented them from even existing.  It takes my breath away when I think back and contemplate how easy it could have been to take a different path, and so how can I regret the things I used to think of as mistakes and lost opportunities if they ultimately led me to these beautiful kids?

In the universe of previously-regrettable moments, there are two that are tied to one particular individual, an old friend I’ll call Mike.  Mike and I knew each other for years, but got quite close in high school and our early college years.  We had similar interests in nerdy stuff, were both smart and creative, and both rather big guys.  But while I tended to be more shy and introspective, Mike was outgoing and boisterous, which of course let him be much more successful with girls than I.

At one point in high school I went over to the house of a different friend of mine and met his sister for the first time, and I totally flipped for her.  I don’t even remember what I had gone over there for, all I recall was that his sister and I hit it off like long-lost soulmates.  We had a ton in common, we had a similar dark sense of humor and constantly laughed at each other.  While I tended to get extremely bashful around girls, something about her put me totally at ease, we kept constant eye contact, shared smiles, and by the time I had to leave she gave me a wonderfully long, lingering hug.  She was tall, long dark hair, a dazzling smile… I never wanted to let go.

I remember driving away in a daze, totally smitten… and in a quandry.  This was my friend’s sister!  In my circle of friends there were sisters who had gotten involved with friends and it usually didn’t end so well, and it tended to muck up the friend dynamic, often evoking the “protective big brother” response, which trumps friendship every time.

But… but… she was perfect! (more…)

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My friend Silly G has created a new blog, partly inspired by a flurry of fun Tweets regarding cocktails, BBQ, hot tubbing and flash parties.  If you love grilling and love cocktails (and seriously, who doesn’t?) then be sure to check out her blog and give her lots of encouragement to share more of her tasty creations!!!  She’s a talented writer and quite fun to read.

Link Love ====> Sear To Perfection

Her About Page is very amusing, here’s part of her story there:

One day missgrill decided to start looking for love.  She had heard over and over again that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.   In the attempt to hook a man, she started barbequing like never before.

Without a single visible burn scar , she boasts the following major dating accomplishments since May 2011:

  • burned 1000 kg of lump charcoal
  • grilled 1 million rib-steaks
  • mixed 442.7 cups of rub
  • too many dates that watched her light charcoal cause they’d never seen it before.
  • barbequed 350 racks of ribs
  • sucked back 682 cases of beer

All this and she has yet to hook the man the man of her dreams.

One day missgrill decided she was sick of spending too much money on prime cuts of meat to feed dates that never became her man.  “Enough is enough.  No man gets the privilege of tasting my barbeque until he has proven his worth.”

From that point on she barbequed just for herself and her friends.

(Oh, and her original blog about love, life, and relationships is great fun too—->  Three Months to Forty)

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The throw-down Saturday was a success!  I was a little worried going into the home stretch because a lot of people who had seemed to be leaning heavily towards coming to the party started bailing on me in the days leading up to the event, citing other things they had to do despite me having planned this thing three months ago in an effort to get “dibs” first for June 23.  It’s frustrating to me that I’m just not on very many people’s radar as part of their social scene, despite being a single guy willing and able to do stuff for two years now and making a serious effort to reach out and reconnect with friends (as I wrote about not long ago, She’d Want to DO Stuff).

Regardless of the light turnout though, the 10 or so people who did come by really showed their warmth, kindness and consideration that truly made me happy to have them as friends.  One couple had some obligations out of town, but still came by for an hour or so before they had to leave, and helped with preparing the food before we chilled out and talked a bit.  I really appreciated them making the time, it was awesome to see them.  Another couple had plans later in the evening, but were enjoying the party too much to leave and cancelled their other engagement.  My BFF ended up staying a lot longer than she originally intended.  As a host, it pleased me to no end to have people want to stay and party on.

There was one woman in particular I had hopes would come by—someone I used to date a long time ago, we’d reconnected through Facebook, both of us are divorced with kids.  She did come by… but brought along a male friend who I’m pretty sure is much more than friends even though I didn’t see any PDAs between them.  Seemed like a super-nice guy who is hopefully treating her well.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t really disappointed, but in a way it snapped me out of a fantasy I’d entertained that we might have been able to rekindle something.  I blew it with her a long time ago, and I certainly can’t expect a second chance.  But she could have easily just blown off the party and spent time with her fella doing something else, so coming by showed me that she values our friendship and that really meant a lot to me.  They stayed quite late, and she even got me really tore up fixing us Loch Ness Monster shots, which made the remaining evening a pleasant blur.

WOOSH! My feisty grill

I had a decent spread of food—grilled veggies, turkey burgers, hot dogs, grilled tempeh, homemade hummus and crackers, homemade salsa and corn chips.  My BFF brought some homemade brownies that were quickly demolished.  My beverage of choice for the evening was Lynchburg Lemonade:  bourbon, triple sec, a sprinkle of sweet and sour mix, topped off with Diet Sprite.  Was a light summery drink that didn’t fill me up and set up a nice buzz to cruise on for the night… until the Loch Ness Monster shots hammered me.  You make those with melon liquor, Jagermeister, and irish crème.  Despite my hatred for Jager, the combination actually tasted quite good.

I woke up around 6am starving, parched, and with my head pounding.  I got up, rustled up some leftover party food, drank a big thing of Gatorade and washed down some Advil, and then went back to bed until noon, when I woke up feeling much better, just a little rough around the edges.  Nothing was broken, no holes in the walls, and everyone seemed to have had a great time so that most definitely goes down as a success in my book.  But the best thing for me was reconnecting with the folks who came by, hopefully deepening the friendship and opening up more opportunities for getting together down the road.  As someone who’s struggled with loneliness and desperately has been trying to climb out of that social void, these good friends reached down and offered me a lifeline.  It’s good to know I’m not alone!

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I see my muse Rachel has ported her blog over to WordPress (yay, WordPress!!), and that she also uploaded stuff from her Livejournal days.  Some of you may remember I posted about her in my post “My Ideal Woman – One Year and Counting!” as one of the women who inspired me to start up this blog.  I think her smarts and personality really shine through in her writing, so go check her out… if you like her, follow her, comment and maybe she’ll update more frequently 🙂

Link Love ====> Toughbunny

Here’s what she says on her About page:

I am in the middle of starting over. :)    I spent  14 years in Washington DC working on the Hill and in Government Affairs.   After several things just went kaplooey, the way life sometimes does, I decided it was time for something new.

I am now a young-middle-aged student in NYC.   I feel 18 and 60 all at the same time (and I am neither that naive or that wise).  I have honestly never felt so young or so old.   I am making many of the same mistakes, but hopefully learning from them much faster.

I want to make this blog something funny and silly.  Hopefully I will find some kindred souls out there!


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[I first wrote this post on Livejournal some years back about finally meeting a woman I’d gotten to know online.  I loved her writing, her sense of humor and her smarts, and one day we made plans to get together and hang out one evening (she lived in nearby Charlottesville).  Given that she turned out to be quite amazing both in person and online, I thought made it appropriate to repost on MyIdealWoman as an homage to a wonderful woman.  We hung out another weekend for the Virginia Film Festival and had a great time, but she now lives in San Francisco so I haven’t seen her in a while, but keep up with her on Facebook.  

NOTE:  I mention “my wife” in the post, this was originally written before we split up.  — Bennie]

On June 25th, my birthday, I knew I wanted to go see Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. Now, I typically go see movies by myself for several reasons: first, my wife  is the polar opposite of me in terms of being a fan of movies– she doesn’t hate them, per se, but she can take ’em or leave ’em. Movies come out that she finds interesting, but not enough to make any sort of effort to work in time to see them. It used to drive me crazy when we started dating, because when a movie came out that she’d expressed interest in seeing, I’d hold off seeing it myself trying to get her to go with me and typically weeks would pass with her rather doing other things than going to the movies, and I’d eventually give up and just go and see it myself. I can’t remember the last time the two of us went out to the movies together– it’s been years.

Second, the rare nights when I might be able to slip out to see a movie, I have no idea when I’m actually going to be able to hit a theater. Getting my son home, helping to get both kids fed, bathed, and ready for bed is typically a variable affair dependent on how ornery either or both kids want to be. I can step out the door anytime between 7:30 and 8:30 or even later, which means I really can’t commit to a time and place. This makes it tough to meet friends to see a movie. So basically I hit the car, check the time, look at the paper and try to find a show that fits for a solo movie run.

June 25th was going to be different. It fell on a Friday, when I’m typically going down to the game shop to hang out with friends and I don’t usually get home until very late. So swapping “hanging at the game shop” for “going to see a movie” was pretty easy. What was really cool was that when Alena found out I was wanting to see the movie, she suggested meeting me there. I was finally going to meet Alena!


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This afternoon was awesome– now that kids are back in school I can resume having regular lunch dates with my BFF Kim!  When she got in touch about setting a date and time for it, I thought about all the things we could talk about, and then had to laugh to myself a little bit– I mean, it was really going to be too much to go over in just an hour over a burger or salad or any one of the numerous things the awesome Silver Diner offers up.  But we could sure make a dent in the things we needed to catch up on.

When I was offered up the guest spot on Simply Solo, I hoped that I would get an increase in traffic here at My Ideal Woman– have some new folks come by, read my blog, and hopefully stick around for more.  I was especially hoping to attract some “chatty” readers who would comment and make the blog more of an interactive spot.  It made me want to “tidy up” the place some– get a new banner to head the blog (thanks so much MJ!!), and revisit the “mission statement” I have in the About section and tighten up the writing to better reflect where the blog is now.  I wrote the About page when I first created My Ideal Woman, but in the couple months since then the blog’s identity has come more into focus.  An email from my friend MJ said it well– “what it is really – an ode to and celebration of the great things about women and you putting your thoughts out there on what you especially love about all things female!”

Spot on!

So it occurred to me this week, as I looked forward to the lunch date with my BFF, that Kim’s a pretty amazing woman herself, and checks off many boxes on my “ideal” list.  Her husband is a very lucky man, let me tell you.  So while this blog will generally focus on women through the lens of a single man looking for love, today I’d like to celebrate an awesome woman who’s a true friend, and someone I’m so grateful to have back in my life.  The story about us reconnecting is actually pretty cool…

I met Kim many years ago in college.  There was a fairly large group of us that came together over our love for card games– Spades, Hearts, Bridge, and other group card games, and that friendship extended into social gatherings that included lots of partying and good times.  Back when my ex and I first started dating, when we ran across some rough spots I turned to Kim for advice, a sympathetic ear, and a shoulder to cry on.

After a while life got in the way, we drifted apart, and she eventually moved out of state.  She actually stayed in touch with my ex for a while but then that correspondence stopped too.  Flash forward years later, and she moves with her husband and daughter back into town.  It’s a whole new era, and there’s this cool site called Facebook that makes it incredibly easy to reconnect with old friends.  Kim checks Facebook to hunt down some of her old Richmond friends and I get a friend request from her and we soon set up the first of many lunch dates.

One of the first things she does is ask me if I ever see or hear from my ex, and I have to laugh, and the look on Kim’s face when I tell her—why yes I do!  In fact, we got married and have two kids!  That shocked and surprised look was just priceless.

Of course, then I’ve got to get serious.  Things actually aren’t doing so well on the marriage front, so over the course of several more lunch dates I again turn to Kim for advice, a sympathetic ear, and a shoulder to cry on.  She’s there for support when we decide to split up, she helps me move into my apartment, brings me a lovely picture to hang on the wall, hangs out with me for a Raising Arizona movie night when everyone else bails.  Watches my kids play the Wii they get for Christmas and laughs with me as they jump and twitch and yell at the TV.  Helps me move into the house and is the first to come visit once I’ve gotten things somewhat unpacked and settled.  She’s brutally honest when it’s called for, notices things that others don’t, brings me little “just ‘cause” gifts (like some delicious jambalaya I’ll be having for dinner tonight).  We share a love of seafood, margaritas, fun Sci-Fi TV like Fringe and Lost, horror novels, old R.E.M. music… so much stuff that we never run out of things to talk and laugh about.

With all the drama in my life since we reconnected, she never made me feel like I was burdening her with all this stuff.  She’s got a very busy and full life of her own, but that hasn’t stopped her from being there for me with a hug and a smile.  It’s pretty amazing and humbling when I think about it, and I can’t imagine not having her in my life now.  And not only is she a great friend, she’s a devoted mom and an awesome wife.  In a blog dedicated to the fairer sex, Kim deserves a big shout-out as one of the best!  I can’t wait to share her with a special someone someday…

When times are rough– divorce or long-term relationships ending– how have your best friends helped you through?

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