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NTKOG #117: The kind of brash Blanche Devereaux type who, when she catches eyes with a man, starts tossing out compliments like Mardi Gras beads.

I am: the girl who — stepping in front of the register at Dunkin’ — takes one look at the cashier and squeals: “I looooove your earrings!”

I am not: quite so keen on extending the same charm to men. God forbid they think I’m after something other than their brains.

The Scene: Bank of America, depositing a few checks for my office. The teller behind the counter is one of those good-looking guys with an almost feminine face that he tries to mask with designer stubble; judging by his gunmetal silver shirt and Kenneth Cole pocket square, I’d wager he’s one of those guys who falls on the side of uncool only because he’s convinced he’s so extremely cool. One of those people everyone loves at first sight then likes less and less. But even if I’m wrong about the personality, I can tell he’s not my type.

As he glances down at my deposit slips, his eyes flutter for a moment and, oh, he’s got the thickest, longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen outside of a Revlon commercial. If he were a woman, I would have immediately cooed, but because he is a man — and, worse, a man who might think I’m angling to sleep with him — my instinct is to check my tongue. But hey, I’m not that kind of girl, right?

TKOG: My god, you’ve got the most beautiful eyelashes! They’re spectacular!
Definitely Not Wearing Mascara: Women always say that. They’ve been saying that my whole life.
TKOG: That’s because they’re jealous. Hell, I’m jealous.
DNWM: That’s sweet of you.

For the rest of the day, I thought all was right with the world. I complimented a man! He didn’t take it awkwardly or give me a look dripping with letting-you-down-easy! We were able to interact completely platonically on a lady-dude-to-dudely-dude level of discussing physical aesthetics!

Then it all went downhill. Over the next few days, when I came in to make deposits, he escalated our chitchat to the degree that I had to take out both earbuds instead of only one. By Wednesday of the next week, he had complimented my dress. The unpleasant encounters came to a head when I dropped off a deposit after the 3:30 rush on Friday afternoon.

DNWM: So what’re you listening to all the time?
TKOG: Oh, y’know, everything. Gregorian chanting, commercial jingles. Right now I’m listening to Stevie Wonder.
DNWM: That’s cool. I go to lots of concerts around here. I’m going to one this weekend, actually.
TKOG: Sweet.
DNWM: Do you have any plans this weekend?
TKOG: Uh, I’ve got to clean my apartment and reread The Great Gatsby oh my god look at the time I’ve got to go bye.

The Verdict: This is why I don’t compliment men. Not because I’m the type of raving narcissist who imagines any guy would fall for her immediately (HA!), but because Murphy’s Law says that any guy I’m seriously not interested in will be the like one guy in five thousand who falls for my accidental charms. That way when I tell the universe, “Dude, seriously, can you not show me some damn love here?” the universe can be like “remember that guy at the bank? geez, all you ever do is complain” and it will be technically right.

I think I’m just going to stick to complimenting women. They’re lovely creatures who smell good and know that I don’t want to hook up with them. That’s as high-pressure as I can get.

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Guys! I’ve been asked to preface menstrual TMIs with a warning for my male readers. So here’s your warning: Vaginas bleed. If you don’t like it, don’t have sex with ’em. (You’re welcome, Muscles.)

Also, enter by NOON TOMORROW to WIN AN IPOD NANO! z0mg!

NTKOG #109: The kind of aggressive oversharer who uses her period as an excuse for everything and makes a valiant effort to keep the world at large up-to-date on her personal, uh, punctuation.

I am: one of those lucky few women whose periods just really aren’t a big deal. I barely notice it.

I am not: going to talk about it when I do notice it. I mean, unless it’s with my girlfriends, obvi, ’cause talking to women inevitably leads to discussions of menstrual blood and wedding plans.

The Scene: My uterus? So here’s a thing about periods, if any guys penetrated my severe warning and made it this far: they are fickle and perverse creatures. And there’s no quicker way to anger them than claiming that yours are never painful or aggravating. I thought of this NTKOG a few weeks ago, and laughed to myself, “Ohhh what an acting job! How could I complain about my light, pain-free period? It is practically a pleasure to host!” Cue me waking up three days later with hyperventilating, blinding, crying cramps. Thank you universe! Universe inside my reproductive system!

Anyway, set out to overshare in a variety of situations, from which, three vignettes:

Objective: Escape convenience store judgment: The Ex always argued I’m unnaturally concerned with the way people behind cash registers perceive me but, dude, you try buying red licorice and a Fresca at 10:59 PM from some translucent-skinny retail girl who weighs forty-five pounds — half eyeliner — and obviously had to filet herself to fit into her jeans. THERE WAS JUDGMENT! There was judgment.

Filet o’ salesclerk furrowed her brow for a sec when she looked at the licorice. I smiled: “Period. Crazy sugar craving, you know? Like mega period.” She looked up and gave the tiniest pulse of a smile. Foolish, heartened, I continued. “The worst part is I never see it coming. Then one day I realize I’m crying at 30 Rock and surrounded by empty pudding cups. Menstruation, eh?”

The smile wiped off her face as she gave a dignified moue of disgust. Sooooo. I guess I know whom I’m not asking if I ever need to borrow a tampon.

Objective: Tardiness with impunity: It has come to my attention, over the years, that girls periodically use their periods as an excuse for being late. I’m … just not at all sure why. But damned if I wasn’t going to give it a shot. Due to an admittedly avoidable cause, I was running about ten minutes late for the writing class I’m taking, which is taught by an elderly woman and attended by four other students. Awesome, dude. My Cher Horowitz moment.

TKOG: Sorry I’m late. I’m like super menstrual.
Old Hippie Instructor: I’m sorry, what?
TKOG: Oh, you know, I’m like on my period in a major way.
OHI
: Wait, what does that have to do with you being late?
TKOG: Uh, cramps?
OHI: [reproving glance]
TKOG: …midol?

Not quite as quotable as surfing the crimson tide, it transpired. And still haven’t solved the mystery of why periods excuse lateness!

Objective: Avoid credit card minimum in sourpuss convenience store: A different convenience store next to my house, the employees of which are positively draconian about their $5 credit card minimum (a policy which, btdubs, violates companies’ terms of agreement with credit card companies). I was picking up a travel pack of Advil to ward off a random headache, but the total came to $2.18 and I had no cash.

TKOG: Dude, seriously, please help me out here. I’m begging you.
Surly Clerk: $5 minimum. Buy something else.
TKOG: But I don’t need anything else! I’m on my period and I have terrible cramps and I need an Advil right flippin’ now.
SC: Sure. If you pay in cash.
TKOG: Dude, come on, my cramps are so bad that last night I dreamed I was giving birth to a llama.

True story, btdubs. Dude wouldn’t relent. So in desperation I glanced behind the counter at the tiny home-improvement section and, remembering the leaky aerator on my kitchen sink, asked him for a set of pliers. He rang ’em up and looked at me for just a moment, confused or at least a little surprised.

“Yeah,” I told him, ripping open the Advil as I walked to the door. “Just, like, in case a tampon gets stuck?”

You’re welcome for the visual, sir. You could have just sold me the damn Advil. But whatever, mind the mood swings, ’cause if you hadn’t heard, I had a good excuse.

The Verdict: Ugh, still not sure why women sometimes do this. I’ll admit I’m a little on the prim Victorian side when it comes to discussing bodily functions (except, apparently, on the blog — yikes), but I just don’t see what possible good can come from bringing up your period with people who aren’t actively seeking a menstrual-based conversation.

That said, as someone who enjoys behaving badly, I did quite appreciate the pale mottled shade of green the last guy turned. So. Keeping it in my bag of tricks as an emergency-conversation-escape smokebomb.

TMI Thursday! Meta-TMI about giving TMI! Go look at Livit, Luvit for more TMI! Also, while we’re housekeeping: new comment policy, kittens. If your comment friggin’ creeps me out, I will delete it wantonly and without warning. This policy will not apply to 99.9999999% of comments, but I am hereby reserving the right forever.

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WIN AN iPOD NANO! It’s red! Like a commie!

NTKOG #106: The kind of well-intentioned busybody who can’t see a stranger let out a lovelorn sigh without immediately demanding all the details then attempting to caulk his broken heart.

I am: completely ill at ease when expected to comfort someone face-to-face.

I am not: interested in your woes, Lonelyheart. Get a blog, then we’ll talk.

The Scene: The Trader Joe’s by Sister’s house, Saturday night around 8:30, in a state of serious disarray. I’ve spent the past few hours in a blue mood — that particular “my first high school boyfriend is fucking engaged, and here I am, unemployed and wearing pajamas on a Saturday night” mood, if you happen to know it. Gathered my few purchases in the entirely empty store, then headed to the check-out.

Before I could take my earbuds out, the check-out guy asked how I was — I’m well, thanks. You? — and as I’m taking my headphones out, he says what looks like, “I’m doing well,” but is just one syllable too many. Surely he couldn’t have said — I mean, don’t he know there’s a protocol? — it’s inconceivable that he might have answered–

“I could be better,” he repeated, to my involuntary look of uptight honorary-New-Englander feelings-inspired mortification. “No, I guess I should keep it professional.”

Um, yeah. You should. But instead of smiling weakly and praying for him to speed up the process, I asked him what was wrong.

Trader Joe’s Clerk: No, don’t worry about it, it doesn’t have to be your problem. I should have kept it professional.
TKOG: I mean, life sucks enough without having to lie about who you are forty hours a week.
TJC: I cheated on my girlfriend.

Yikes. The clerk, incidentally, was cute in that over-expressive-faced European way. He looked like the drummer from Green Day with shorter hair. His eyes were red-rimmed. To my horror, they started watering.

He went on to tell me how his girlfriend had gone out of town and his ex had come to visit, asked to stay with him. He’d told her she had to sleep on the couch, but somehow….

“She tricked me! She manipulated me!”

“Yeah, we’re like that sometimes, women.”

After his tale of woe, I asked if he loved the girlfriend (yes) and said that, in my humble opinion, I didn’t see how he could do much better than making sure she could see he loved her and trying to earn her trust back. He thanked me and relinquished the bag of groceries he’d been holding hostage during the few minutes of our chat. Then put on my Garth and headed back out into my home-bound Saturday night, braless, pajama-clad, a guru.

The Verdict: Please don’t talk to me about your emotional woes in real life. I do not like it. I like to read about it, gchat about it, even sometimes talk on the phone about it, but in real life I do not know where to put my eyes when you want me to look into your soul.

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NTKOG #105: The kind of rule flouting bladder-centric dude who lets an urgency to pee eradicate the societal construct that is separate-gendered restrooms.

I am: a lady.

I am not: sure what y’all other ladies are doing in there that make our lines so much longer than lines for the men’s room. Seriously, girls.

The Scene: Restrooms up and down this fair city for the past month and a half. If there was a line for the ladies’ only, I dashed into the men’s. And, dude? If it’s a single-occupancy restroom (as is the case in so many of the space-starved commercial lots in this pinched city), there is virtually no difference between the rooms. You can use whichever one you want with literally no repercussions. WHY HAVE WE BEEN WAITING IN LINE WHILE PERFECTLY GOOD RESTROOMS SAT OPEN?! We’re like some primitive bladder-masochism tribe that stands around worshipping the blue and white triangular dress idol. What will future cultures think of us. Honestly.

Non-fortress-style men’s rooms, however, were a bit more difficult a prospect. As moxious as I am, I did my utmost to avoid entering one where a guy was peeing at the time, both out of respect for guys’ privacy and because I didn’t want to catch an eyeful of anyone’s junk. (Figurative eyeful, that is. Although, uh, literal too, now that you mention it.)

However, one night, out with the ladies at a bar in Brighton that skews to the youth demographic, I may have had a drink or two too many, and was emboldened to duck into the men’s room. A dude stood in there, poised to decant over the urinal. He locked eyes with me and barked: “What the fuck are you doing here?!”

Ladies, if ever you get in a similar situation — face burning with embarrassment, social reputation on the line — and are already wearing heels and lots of make-up, allow me to give you the five magic words to instantaneously extricate yourself:

“Pre-op. Wanna feel my genitals?”

I’m all class, y’all.

The Verdict: Chalk another one up for “nobody cares what you do, dumbass,” ’cause, truly, nobody seems to care a whit either way which restroom you use. Unless you’re, y’know, watching them pee or whatever. (Please don’t watch other people pee without their consent. Or if you do, please don’t write about it in the comments section.) Although my days of recreational restroom switching are officially past me, if I’m ever at a restaurant with single-stall restrooms and one of them is open, dude, I’m totally using it, regardless of what the little pictogram on the door sign is wearing.

This would have been more of a TMI Thursday if the guy had actually taken me up on the offer to feel my genitals; nonetheless, I submit it for your approval. Go check out Livit, Luvit for more TMI hilarity! And have you entered to win my iPod Nano giveaway yet?!

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Do not fail, loves, to enter to win an 8 gig iPod Nano (with video! and radio!) in my giveaway.

NTKOG #103: The kind of ‘roided-out angerball who, when life gives her lemons, punches a fruit vendor in his big ugly face.

I am: passive; afraid of touching people ever ever ever.

I am not: one for fisticuffs. Which you can probably tell. By the fact I call them fisticuffs.

The Scene: B-Line T, going from my apartment to Harvard Ave. It’s empty for a Wednesday morning — approximately half the seats full, but I stand in the alcove by the door because I do not have far to go. There is only one other dude standing with his back to me, a few feet away, between me and the exit. Half-Asian guy, college-aged, six feet tall and buff but also bulky, like he makes it to the gym every day then rewards himself with a few hot dogs. He’s wearing one of those puffy astronaut coats and standing, inexplicably, in the middle of the aisle.

Doors open and I start to dash off the train to my bus, which is already waiting across the street, when the guy suddenly spread-eagles himself between me and my chance getting to work on time. He reaches his arms up so that one is grasping the top rail on each side of the aisle, then spreads his legs so he is in jumping-jack position. His head kind of lolls to the side.

“Excuse me,” I say. His head lolls a bit more in the other direction. “Excuse me!” I prepare to run for the other exit, blaming kids these days with their earbuds and their weird subway-riding calisthenics, except right as I turn I realize — I have a clear shot of both ears. Guy isn’t listening to music. He’s just ignoring me. I”m the kind of girl who puts up with crap like that every day but no, not right now.

“DUDE, I need to get by!” I bellow like a moose, tapping on his shoulder through the puffcoat. “You very seriously need to move RIGHT FRIGGIN’ NOW!” He starts aimlessly scratching his nose.

So, I did what any normal girl would do. I punched him.

Okay, and before y’all start making citizens arrests all up in here, two points: 1) My biceps aren’t exactly registered as lethal weapons. Before the advent of touch-screen phones, I could barely punch in a phone number. 2) It was a punch in the middle in the back of what I’d call “no, seriously, stop tickling me!” strength.

Did the trick though. The dude instantly twirled on his heel, face a grotesque mask of slowly realized rage. The second he turned, I ducked under his arm and ran off into the morning.

I swear to you, though, and you can believe this as you like, that when I looked back, I locked eyes with the middle-aged woman who had been sitting in front of him, and who had witnessed the whole thing. She stared at me for one intense second, then slowly gave me a thumbs-up.

The Verdict: Man, I haven’t punched anyone since that time I punched Muscles — excellent to brag about! Terrible thing to actually do as a human being, of course. I would obviously never do this again (even though, really, the punch in question was more akin to a strident “scuse me!” shoulder tap, and the placement more than anything is what upped it to punchitude). Still, this did make me feel kind of like a take-no-shit commuter, which is a feeling I need to harness on those days when I stand passively by while strangers sneeze in my face and take gum out of my pockets.

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GUYS! Sarah Von from the UNIMPEACHABLY DELIGHTFUL yes and yes was kind enough to run a little interview with me today! Check it out if you’re interested in my inner workings, such as they are. And apologize for length of today’s post but I’m going to go ahead and file it under: worth it.

NTKOG #96: The kind of bold, forward-moving networker who meets you, takes your contact information and actually calls you to meet up afterwards.

I am: terrified of accidentally imposing my company on unwilling interlocutors.

I am not: crazy enough, therefore, to follow through with any of the disposable friends whose numbers and business cards I accumulate by the dozen on the T.

The Scene: Last month, I met a dude on the T and went absolutely nuts for him — fireworks, fantasy montages, the whole deal — and was heartbroken when he canceled our date. A few days ago, after a month of no contact from him, I forcibly ejected every fiber of “he’s just not that into you” from my mind and texted him, proposing drinks on Thursday. To my utter friggin’ elation, he actually agreed, and suggested 8pm at Harvard Square.

Dressed for the evening in a tizzy; finally settled on: pencil skirt, casual V-neck with push-up bra, granny panties (to protect against first-date sexin’), and condoms in my purse (I’m only human). Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. Dude was, as I remembered, a dreamboat, after all.

As I approached him, he waved and I wondered, huh, were his eyes this beady when I first met him? And was his forehead always so protrudey? But my taste in men is quirky anyway. As we walked to the bar, I launched into a funny story about Kiss-Ducker and I getting drunk in a combination Mexican restaurant slash tranny bar in San Jose.

“When we get together, we’re totally crazy,” I smiled.

“Wanna know a fun fact about me?” he asked. I nodded. “I’m totally crazy too.”

Just then, his cell phone went off; he answered immediately. “Hi Mom. I’m okay, how are you? Yeah, I’m just out right now. With some girl.” I threw up my arms in mock-protest. “No, she’s a real girl, Mom. I swear she’s real.” Um, your red flags getting a workout yet?

After he said goodbye, I joked: “Hey, this is great. I thought I would make this date really awkward, but, dude, you took a call from your mom! Totally surged into the lead! Nothing can be awkward now!”

“Oh, the fun fact about me,” he continued. “I’m crazy. Literally. I was hospitalized for a psychiatric breakdown in late November. I got diagnosed with bipolar and I’m on tons of lithium, so I can’t read people’s minds anymore. Okay, the bar’s around the corner.”

…holy shit. Holy shit. We walked into the bar and were told it had a twenty-minute wait. Was that okay with me, he asked? Uh, no. I needed gin and I needed it about five minutes ago.

We headed down the block to a cute underground bar and I flagged the hostess down and begged for a gin and ginger ale, and keep ’em coming. And for the gentleman?

“I’ll have a pina colada.”

…she broke it to him that they don’t make pina coladas at Irish pubs, so he sighed and ordered a pint of beer. When she brought our drinks, she lay a straw next to my glass. Former Dreamboat unwrapped the straw and stuck it in his beer. HE DRANK BEER WITH A STRAW.

In order to fill the fog of awkward, I babbled through my ice-breakers (what’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod? Miley Cyrus. do you have a rich uncle or a creepy uncle? Uncle Moneybags) while generously lubricating my discomfort with the blessed gin. Former Dreamboat, though, was in no hurry. He sipped his beer drop by drop while staring deep in my eyes. And dudes, I am here to say that he had a case of the Crazy Eye so bad that his irises were practically plaid. If you don’t know what I mean by this, you have never been penetrated by the Crazy Eye.

Every time I dropped my hand to the table, he jerked his arm toward me to try to cover my hand with his own. After a few iterations of hand and mouse, I buried my fists deep in my armpits, shivering with feigned cold in the eighty-degree bar.

The conversation moved to meeting people in the T, and I admitted that though I am naturally shy, I meet tons of people during my commute. “It’s hard to meet people on the T, though,” he mused. “If you try to talk to people, they think you’re crazy. My best opener is when I see people playing with their cell phones, I ask if they get reception in the station. You can kind of trick people into talking to you that way.”

I mentioned that I like to flash people live eyes, which sometimes draws them into conversation. He answered: “Oh, I stare at people too. I stare at people in the T all the time. They always look away really fast, though. It’s probably because I’m a guy.” It could be that, dude. It could. Or it could be the fact that you actively try to trick people into talking to you.

For the rest of his slooooow beer (and my two subsequent gin and ginger ales), he discussed the side effects of his lithium, the pall that it casts over his world until it loosens its grip before bedtime. “Did you know that 60% of bipolar patients stop taking their medicine within a year?” he asked me, a glint of hope in his voice. “I miss being manic. I was really great back then. I was a good conversationalist. You would have liked me. I thought I could read minds too, and even though I guess I couldn’t, it was kind of nice, feeling normal like that.”

Finally I paid for our drinks and walked him back to the T station, before catching my bus. There was a moment before we parted ways — that normal awkward first date moment, but captured in a funhouse mirror. He leaned in to kiss me, but I ducked out of it and gave him a hug. We should do this again, he told me. Yeah, I said, maybe. As I walked away, I could hear him taking out his cell phone to call his mother back.

The Verdict: Shit, guys, I thought that was a funny story, but it’s actually kind of sad, isn’t it? I don’t know. Part of me is happy that he apparently had a good time; the other part of me is shrieking I wore a push-up bra for this?! One thing is for certain: I’m not picking up any more guys in public until I somehow install a better pre-screening process for social dysfunction. Also, if a dude ever comes up to me on the T and asks if I get cell reception, I will turn up my music, smile politely, and say nothing.

Now I’m kind of feeling like a jerkface that I didn’t like this guy, but the thing is, you can’t like people just because the world would be a sweeter place if you did. I think all you can do is be nice and try to be an okay person. He ordered a pina colada in an Irish pub. It wasn’t going to work out anyway. It just wasn’t. I don’t know. I’m doing my best.

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NTKOG #89: The kind of hopeless, anonymous romantic who meets a man at random and — after losing him in the crowd — throws a (metaphorical) message in a bottle to catch him again.

I am: in the habit of falling in love with half a dozen men a day.

I am not: so short of great lost loves that I need to dig them back up on the internet, it stands to reason.

The Scene:  The Brookline Booksmith (aka: Brookline’s literary Disneyland), shortly after moving here. I had a moment with the clerk after purchasing a book from the bargain table and — thuTHUD, is the sound of TKOG falling in love. For months, I would get all dolled up before browsing the bsmith, in hopes of meeting him, but alas, I never saw him again.

Enter Craigslist Missed Connections. Because surely a dude who reads George Saunders can read a measly little personals ad, right? Attached, verbatim, is the ad I posted last Thursday:

Bookline Booksmith former employee with taste for postmodern lit – w4m – 23 (Brookline)

You: hulked-out Korean (I think) former Brookline Booksmith employee with badass tattoos and a taste for postmodern literature.

I: came in sometime in September. Fast-talking brunette with black plastic-rimmed Weezer glasses.

We: bonded over a mutual love for George Saunders when I bought a copy of “In Persuasion Nation” off the bargain table.

You: asked if I had read any Barthelme.

I: am reading “60 Stories” as we speak.

You: were my imaginary boyfriend until you stopped working there at some point within the past few months.

I: miss having a reason to put on make-up on Saturday mornings.

You: got any more great book recommendations?

Looooove,
Your Former Imaginary Girlfriend (unbeknownst to you)

No word back yet; not even a book recommendation from a stranger. Oh well. That’s the thing about messages in bottles, I guess: sometimes they’re washed away forever, sometimes they’re found by someone else entirely. Almost never are they discovered by the person you intended.

The Verdict: I still totally support this one. In retrospect, I’m not sure why I was nervous about posting a Missed Connection in the first place — aside from the fact that when I see a guy I like, I tend to do something about it. But next time I miss my chance with someone, I would completely try this again, because what’s the worst that could happen?

Actually, the worst that could happen is that Booksmith Guy could email me back:  “You, TKOG, like so many other George Saunders-loving brunettes, have been driven to the brink of madness by my pomo literary tastes and badass tattoos. Based on your prose style, might I recommend The Da Vinci Code?”

Man. That would be horrible. Please don’t do that, Bookstore Guy! Otherwise, I’m down with Missed Connections.

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