Monday, July 12, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the...Football

I awake to a classic summer day, one filled with chirping birds, cloudless skies, and a very aggressive hangover.

Memories of the prior evening stream through my mind: the 45-year old doctor who wanted to take me out for Greek food near L'Enfant Plaza; a chaotic stroll through the carnival of Adam's Morgan; my self-restraint at 2am. Jumbo Slice called, and I didn't answer.

Amidst these recollections comes an extremely disturbing epiphany: Sunday, July 11, is not a typical trial in surviving the Sunday Blues. It is something infinitely more challenging. A test of the weakest of all my skills: my ability to feign interest in sports.

For yesterday marked an epic World Cup Championship match between Spain and the Netherlands, with extreme sportsmanship traditionally reserved for our international brethren. And yet, seemingly out of nowhere, Americans have joined the fan base. This is surely some cruel joke, or a feature on

Until now, I have managed to avoid watching, championing, or discussing the World Cup during my residence in the United States. While living abroad, I had to pretend to care about soccer, but I was able to ignore American football in a blissful trade-off that I presumed would operate in a parallel fashion when I returned to the Big-Gulp-loving USA.

I scroll through my phone, confident that at least one of my friends will boycott soccer in favor of Scrabble, coffee and a movie. Aha! A light bulb illuminates as I gaze out the window. I live in Dupont Circle, in the heart of the gayborhood, where show tunes and shopping consistently trump sports. This task will be easy.

Now grinning, and sipping my first cup of coffee, I reach for my phone and dial Scott, affectionately listed as "Diva" in my blackberry. He picks up. He's available, hungry and seemingly ambivalent about the course of the afternoon.

After a leisurely brunch and a stroll through our neighborhood, we turn towards 14th Street, where I aim to get gelato and inspired ideas from furniture stores that I can't afford, but Scott directs me towards U Street, where he plans to meet a friend. I'm naively anticipating a third shopping companion, someone whose attention to detail will far surpass mine and make my decorating project that much easier.  Little do I know, Scott is leading me towards a sports bar, where the 2:30 start time, and incredibly attractive clientele, have many a sports fan drooling.

From the oustide, Nelly's is just another run of the mill bar. Sports paraphernalia lines the windows and spacious rooftop terrace, and the sounds of boisterous fans emanate from within.

Upon entry, the scene is starkly different from the sticky-floored bars of my weekend ventures. As we make our way through the crowded downstairs of Nelly's, I realize that this is nothing like the testosterone-fuelled mayhem that one finds at a Texas football game. The men here are thinner, with decidedly better hair and accessories.  They--immaculately dressed and mannered--will never meet my gaze, unless it's to inquire about my eye makeup.

I should be elated to discover such a handsome group of men gathered in one convenient location, like a crisp, colorful box of French macaroons ceremoniously delivered, but eye candy is a fleeting pleasure. Particularly when there's no possibility of realization.

On closer inspection, I take note of myself, the odd misfit juxtaposed against the pretty boys. I'm sporting the wrinkled Ann Taylor dress that I wore to work last Friday. My scraggly hair sits in a low, messy ponytail. I lick my lips and realize they're devoid of lipstick.

No, no, no. This simply will not do. The image of me, dressed like this, exhausted from the night before, would be fine were it to appear within the confines of my messy little apartment, but my presence here does a disservice to the image of "fabulous" single women everywhere.

With a few air-kisses, and one last saturating look around the crowded terrace, I exit. Gelato awaits.

Friday, July 9, 2010

College Student Asks Crush Out Over the Phone

Georgia Tech student Mark Steeples is spending the summer at home in Atlanta, Georgia, where he’s lifeguarding at the resident country club. Steeples had hoped to work for his Congressman in Washington, D.C. but was unable to secure the highly-coveted unpaid internship. Like so many undergraduates, Steeples has become one of the recession’s many unintended victims.

He explained, “I really thought I’d get [the internship]. I mean, my Dad knows the Congressman, and he’s been to our beach house a couple of times, but I guess no one's that interested in a college history major with a B- average.” Steeples went on to say, “I think they hired a Harvard law student instead.”

Initially disappointed with his lifeguarding job, Steeples’ ambivalent attitude turned a corner when he noticed his high school crush hanging out at the country club pool. Sally Beasley, a fellow sophomore at UGA, is also spending the summer at home in Atlanta.

At first glance, Steeples was intimidated by her—“She’s filled out since high school. She looks pretty hot now. I think she might even be a B cup…”—but finally got up the nerve to talk to her from his lifeguard post. The two chatted about the weather and traded gossip (Beasley just got a “pretty legit” fake ID) and he eventually became courageous enough to add her on Facebook after 2 and a half weeks of spontaneous poolside interactions.

His search, coupled with extensive Google stalking, failed to return an exact match. He tried again, hoping in vain that her profile was hidden among those of overweight, 50+ women. Steeples became increasingly desperate, and started searching for her through friends and friends of friends, but he eventually concluded that Beasley is one of the few people his age who refuses to partake in social networking sites.

“I mean, it’s kind of cool, I guess. But I don’t really know where to go from here. She’s not on Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn.” Steeples sought advice from his older brother, who recommended that he ask for her number. The idea seemed old-fashioned, but Steeples concluded that he had no other way of moving the relationship forward.

Steeples asked Beasley for her digits, and she obliged. He waited roughly 5 days before reaching out via text, having seen “Swingers” a few times with an older cousin, but was surprised to discover that Beasley wouldn't write him back. Steeples began with “Hey, what’s up?” and ramped up his efforts by asking her, “What are you doing this wkd?” Neither of his texts received a response.

Steeples became nervous but refused to give up all hope: their in-person conversations suggested that she was at least interested enough to meet up at a party, and possibly to make out. He asked his friends, fraternity big brother, and parents, several of whom proposed that he call her to invite her for a date.

More persuasion ensued, and the now-very reluctant Steeples decided to do it. He’d call her, just once, to see whether she had an explanation for not responding to his text messages. At the very least, he’d know that he had properly entered her number into his iPhone.

Steeples planned it out perfectly. He came home from lifeguarding on Thursday night and snuck into his parents’ liquor cabinet. He poured himself “about 3 vodka shots” and enjoyed two Heinekens before picking up the phone.

He scrolled through his contacts and clicked on Sa-mantha. SH*T. He was fumbling. He tried again and this time got it right.

“Hello?” answered Sally, in her sweet Southern drawl.

“Something took over from there,” explains Steeples, “I didn’t really know what to do, but it came pretty natural, I guess. We talked for about 10 minutes and planned to meet up the following night at my friend Andy's party.”

The two have been hooking up ever since, although Steeples still hasn't been able to convince Beasley to try Facebook.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Trend Alert: Voluntary Relaxation Rehab

Travel Agent Melissa Newman has received some rather bizarre inquiries of late. According to Newman and others in her field, people have begun inquiring about rehabilitation facilities when planning their vacations.

One of Newman’s first clients to make the unconventional request explains, “I wanted to take a relaxing getaway to Florida or the Caribbean, somewhere on the ocean. But the thought of going anywhere with my family really stressed me out. They are no walk in the park, trust me.”

Newman responded by suggesting that her client take her loved ones on a family-oriented cruise, where children are often immersed in daily activities, thus allowing the parents to have time on their own. She also talked to her client about the possibility of sending the children to regional summer camps. None of the options placated her client’s intense vacation anxiety.

Newman began to dig deeper in her research and found a few vacation venues offering “extended relaxation therapy.” Follow-up conversations with her client eventually led to the perfectly planned vacation.

“When you think about it,” says Newman, “it makes a good deal of sense. These [rehab] facilities are luxurious, quiet, and located in stunning physical settings. They are admittedly expensive, but the traveler’s vacation costs include meals, housing, fun activities and intense one-on-one therapy sessions.” The promise of focused, daily therapy usually seals the deal for uncertain travelers.

And it’s not just families who are taking advantage of these therapeutic getaways. They are fast becoming popular among young professionals who struggle to find time within the work day to seek counseling. One added bonus? Most mental health patients are single.

A number of mental health professionals have questioned the wisdom of sending healthy patients to facilities reserved for those individuals facing depression, substance abuse, or other, more extreme mental health problems. Dr. Pagoda, head psychologist at Happy Endings in Tucson, Arizona, warned that “average persons” who are merely experiencing “marginal stress” could end up compromising the important work being done for the “real” patients at his treatment center.

When asked for further information on this effect—given that all patients are treated individually—Dr. Pagoda offered, “I’m not at liberty to discuss the private actions of our patients, but, well…there have been a number of alcohol-related relapses over the past few months.”

Despite his and others’ warnings, several online travel companies, including Orbitz and Expedia, are planning to incorporate “mental health getaways” in their vacation offerings.

Brangelina to Adopt a Scandinavian Child

Angelina Jolie and long-time partner Brad Pitt are reportedly planning to add a 7th child to their ever-expanding brood despite perpetual tabloid reports of marital discord.

Adoption rumors have been sparked by Jolie’s personal comments and prolonged visits to a number of foreign orphanages. Jolie recently stated, “I can see further additions to the family — both adopted and our own.”

Initial reports indicated that the couple was looking in Syria or Haiti, the latter country having garnered Jolie’s attention after her visit following the recent earthquake. Other sources report that she’s contemplating adopting from Africa; she would like to give Ethiopian-born Zahara a cultural companion.

In recent months, adoption rumors have swirled elsewhere. Pitt has reportedly convinced Jolie that if they don’t have another biological child together, he’d prefer to adopt a child from a Scandinavian country. Pitt apparently feels that the couple has focused too much on Africa and Asia. They need, in his opinion, to bring some attention to Scandinavia, a region that is often overlooked in the mainstream media.

Sarah Henry, Vice President of the Scandinavian-American Alliance explains, “No one really thinks much about Sweden, Norway and Denmark, although I suppose Norway is on people’s radar because of Elin Woods.” Such countries generally enjoy high GDPs and standards of living, despite the intensely dark winter months that cause seasonal effective disorder (“SAD”).

In addition to raising interest in the region, and the obstacles its residents face, Pitt believes that a Scandinavian child would make his first biological daughter feel more at home in the Pitt-Jolie household. Shiloh, with her blond hair, blue eyes, and striking features, could certainly benefit from a kindred spirit.

Brad and Angelina also worry that Shiloh’s tomboy tendencies could be problematic. A source explains, “Brad and Angie believe that a pretty, blond little sister could really help Shi develop into a nice young woman. The twins probably won’t be able to fill that role, because everyone thinks they are starting to resemble their maternal grandfather, John Voight.”

All eyes are on the famous, jetsetting family to see how their latest adoption plan unfolds.