Posts Tagged ‘harvard square’

NTKOG #101: The kind of self-assured consumer who, when she feels she has been wronged, demands you go significantly out of your way in order to correct the perceived error — and stands there tapping her foot and not apologizing until you do so.

I am: the friggin’ worst at asking for what I want in any relationship, cashier/consumer included.

I am not: often so confident of my perceptions that I’ll take my own word over someone else’s when it comes to questions of short-term memory.

The Scene: One of my favorite book stores in Harvard, Thursday night. I walked in with a Hamilton in my pocket, prepared to buy a $2 used paperback mystery before heading out for a slice and a beer — what amounts to a bit of a spree, in my world. After a pleasant chat about Wodehouse with a bookseller (love this fine city), another girl rang up my purchase, which came to $2.13. Handed her the tenner and dug through my pockets for a while to find exactly thirteen cents. Few minutes later, at the pizza parlor, reach in my pocket to pay and — nothing. Book-seller had forgotten to give me my $8 change.

Called the bookstore immediately and explained what had happened, and could he ask my cashier if she’d forgotten to hand my cash back? Put me on hold ’til my slice was lukewarm, then told me the cashier was 100% absolutely positive she had handed my change back. “…but if you like,” he sort of grated out, “you can come back and we’ll be more than happy to conduct an official drawer audit.”

Laughed it off and read part of my book. Can you imagine?! Making someone count through an entire drawer of cash, just to recover $8? Depending on how busy the store was, closing down a register would probably cost them more than $8 in lost revenue and pissed-off customers! It would be self-involved and humiliating and … oh god, I had to do it.

When I returned, I jumped to the back of the long line (hey, I was being self-interested, not totally assholic) and when I got up to the front, the cashier I’d had smiled at me for a moment, looked down at my empty hands and then realized why I was there. Her smile melted like cake frosting at a picnic.

“Hey Jim,” she called to another employee, “Can you handle the other register while I do an audit?” I wanted to apologize like a friggin’ drug, but stayed strong. As my cashier laboriously began counting twenties, I watched Jim, oozing charisma, chat and grin with a grizzled old customer. “Did you hear about Salinger?” the customer asked as he was walking out; Jim nodded.

I looked up at Jim and smiled. “Poor Howard Zinn, getting overshadowed by Salinger. It’s the literary equivalent of Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.” Jim swiveled on his heel and took two steps away from me, not acknowledging that I’d even spoken. A few minutes later (my cashier was by now hand-counting the teetering pile of ones crammed into the register), Jim asked my cashier when it had started snowing; I told him it had started about ten minutes ago, and he grimaced at me, then walked another few aimless steps away. FUCK. These people HATED ME.

As the time stretched on (seventeen minutes, to be exact) and my cashier counted all of the loose change in the register and went back to re-count the ones, then added the whole mess together with a thumbnail sized calculator, I grew increasingly upset. Surely eight dollars couldn’t be worth this: all the math, and the hatred, and clogged register. I’m being so super literal with you when I say that bile rose in my throat and my eyes were coated with a thin sheen of tears. I wanted to beg her: stop it! stop the counting! it’s okay! i’m not blaming you and maybe I was wrong! But I’d forced myself to do this and had to see it through. As she finished totaling the register, my stomach knotted with the possibility that she actually was right and that all this had been for nothing.

After she stared at the total for a minute, silently, and without making eye contact, she peeled a five and three ones from the register and shoved them toward me. “Wait, are there — so the money was there?”

“I guess I made a mistake,” she said, in a voice like cracking ice. I mumbled about sixteen apologies (sorry for all the math!); she kept her head bowed and said nothing. As I skulked, ashamed, out of the bookstore, I overheard Jim joking to another customer: “…kind of the literary equivalent of Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.”

Goddamnit. Goddamnit.

The Verdict: I will never do this again, never never never never. This is not only the most horrible thing I’ve done for the blog, but, I think, the most horrible thing I’ve ever done, period. I was visibly shaking for about five minutes after I left the store. For someone so high-strung and quick to be cut by others’ resentment or even just perceived resentment, doing this for ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY is not worth the eventual cost of sweet boozy PTSD therapy.


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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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Your comments on MY GIVEAWAY entry are warming my heart, dudes slash ‘ettes! Remember, you still have ’til Tuesday to enter to win a Wodehouse novel, Lush soaps, or a (non-used) sex toy! Which basically sounds like the best evening ever.

NTKOG #75: The kind of girl who quite liberally slips her hand inside your pocket. Non-metaphorically.

I am: actually pretty nimble of finger when it comes to boosting random objects like bar glasses and steak knives.

I am not: sure about the ethical ramifications of applying my dark powers to THE CONTENTS OF YO’ PANTS.

The Scene: Charlie’s in Harvard Square, after my Thursday night writing class, hanging out with Anglophile and Porn Star, a girl and guy from said class. Which actually makes it a night chock full of NTKOG: after class, choking on pre-teen-esque nerves, I asked them if they wanted to just chill and imagine my joy when they actually said yes! (Dear Diary: I finally made some friends!). After chatting for a while (Dear Diary: intellectually stimulating conversation!), we decided to embark on a misadventure.

A target immediately presented itself — quite literally — in the form of a white dishrag tucked into the, um, quite tempting pocket of our server. “Come on!” I told Anglophile, “You wanted a misadventure! You should just grab it from him!” She giggled and steeled herself up, but couldn’t dredge up the nerve.

The other strand of the evening: Anglophile and I were trying assiduously (and, I’ll admit, teenager-ishly) to come up with titles of the fine feature films in which we imagined Porn Star had earned his epithet. Usually I have just about the dirtiest sense of humor of anyone I’ve met, and am an endless fount of puns, so you’d think the intersection of these traits would yield epic success, right?

TKOG: I’m feeling something science fiction. How about — Star Balls?
Anglophile: What are you talking about? Star Whores.
TKOG: Damn.

The server walks past our table, the bar rag swish swishing against the back of his thighs. Anglophile and I reach toward it, then our courage deserts us.

Anglophile: How about a horror movie?
TKOG: The Pecs-orcist?
Anglophile: What?! No! The SEXorcist.

As I hang my head in shame, the server takes a step back toward our table. Swish, swish.

I jump up from the table and track the server from one end of the bar to the other, sneaking out my hand like a cartoon cat reaching into the goldfish bowl. But to no avail: he wriggles out of my grasp at every turn. The man is good. The three of us divvy up the check and I decide I’ll just steal the rag and run. So I sneak up behind server, pluck the rag out of his pocket and — goddamnit, my fatal flaw when it comes to staging a rear attack: make the mistake of engaging in conversation.

TKOG: I really like this bar rag. It’s like the perfect size and color. I want these for my apartment.
Empty Pockets: Uh, thanks? They’re okay, I guess.
TKOG: Can I keep this one? I want to keep this.
EP: Yeah, no. I can’t. We technically rent them from the company.
TKOG: Okay, so can I have something else to remember you by?

The server grabs a beer from the bar and starts to hand it off, then says something about open container laws. He scours the rest of the bar, looking for a souvenir, then finally settles on a fork.

TKOG: Thanks so much — [nametag glance] — Chris. I’ll always remember the night you forked me.

The Verdict: So my pun sense abandoned me for the bulk of the evening, but IT CAME BACK WHEN I NEEDED IT MOST. A really gorgeous tying of the two strands of the evening, if I do say so myself. Although I accidentally stabbed myself about fourteen times, carrying the fork in my pocket on the T.

This is officially the second-cheesiest pick-up line I’ve used on a bar employee in Boston; definitely also the most genuinely amused I’ve been while behaving totally inappropriately with a guy. Totally surprisingly to my anti-touch self, I would not only attempt the klepto as a pick-up again, but totally want to go back and try it again WITH HIM. Except this time I’ll pass on the cutlery and go for the free beer, please.

Also, if you couldn’t guess by the immature shenans and non-stop porn discussion, I would 100% recommend hanging out with random, cool-seeming people who you don’t think you know well enough to hang out with. It’s just not worth being too embarrassed to ask, because the potential reward is so high.

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NTKOG #71: The kind of wishy-washy ragdoll who, instead of making independent decisions, asks strangers for input and bends to their every whim.

I am,: in everyday matters, often too picky to listen to the voice of the majority.

I am not: a girl who has a hard time making a decision.

The Scene: An afternoon in Harvard Square, spent bumming around and trying to write after a (very good, I think!) job interview. My only goals for the afternoon were to eat lunch and write about ten pages for a story I’ve been working on. Easy peasy, right?

After the interview, I hopped into Finagle and set up my laptop. When the clerk asked what I wanted, I only gazed at her with a sort of vague, salvation-seeking smile. “What do you think I should get? What’s your favorite?” Weirdly, she chose an everything with scallion, which is what I was going to choose anyway.

After an hour or so of writing, the employees got edgy for me to give up the seat I’d been occupying, so I drifted to Peet’s and made the requisite for-internet purchase. “Tea, I should think. I don’t know. You choose the flavor, please.” The dreamy cashier fell in my eyes a bit when he picked out two bags of boring Earl Grey, then recurried all his lost favor when he quite emphatically told me to get a slice of pumpkin bread. Yes, sir.

What with the exhausting task of writing for hour upon hour, I ended up stopping at Lush – oh Lush, how I love it – on the way back to the bus. “Bubble bar, please,” I told the willowy, nervous-cute girl at the counter. “I want something insanely decadent. Something that will make me feel more a god than a mortal.”

She actually blew me away by suggesting a combination of a melt and a bubble bar that I not in a million years would have chosen. To wit: Shy Guy, the cinnamon bubble bar, mixed with a super-luxe slightly floral oatmeal exfoliating melt. Smelling the two together kind of made my brain break, in the best of all ways. I fell in love right then, a little bit, is what I think I’m saying.

The Verdict: You guys! It was so nice to take a few hours and TURN MY BRAIN OFF. A+++ would rely on the decision-making abilities of strangers again. I should really do this again next time I eat out in a restaurant. It might help me get over my many irrational food fears. (Yeah, I’m watching you, cauliflower. Also: all of seafood.) Although, second lesson learned: I am perhaps the easiest touch in the world for a quick up-sell. Fiscal responsibility? Pah.

Going to continue the complete mental gooification now with a four-hour soak. Bliss.

Also, unrelated but completely wonderful: MEGA CONGRATS TO SISTER, who just landed an awesome new job!!! I couldn’t be prouder of her. Any company would be fantastically lucky to have her!

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