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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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NTKOG #112: The kind of angsty, chocolate-smeared loneyheart who spends V-Day with her equally man-hating girlfriends jabbing stickpins into the crotch of dumb-boy voodoo dolls.

I am: single.

I am not: bitter.

The Scene: My glorious cinnamon- and chocolate-scented apartment, V-Day evening. Anglophile came over and we discussed the douchebaggery of men in general (and a few men in particular) before deciding on our plan of attack for the evening. Dude, we decided, let’s list all the reasons we never liked them anyway! Then make voodoo dolls! And burn effigies of the pathetic motherfuckers! Uh, and did I mention chocolate?!

We gathered voodoo supplies and fired up the fondue pot. Cute idea, I thought, but we’re not actually going to do all this stereotypical shit. We’ll probably just end up watching a movie or something…

As for how it turned out. Um, I’m going to let the following pictures tell you a few thousand words. Don’t worry, though. I weeded out all the shriekingly scathing ones.

That's not my real calendar -- my real calendar happens to have pictures of me on it this monthing. If the monthly 'stache were a real calendar, though, I'd totes buy it!

Turns out it only takes two vindictive girls, three pens, a jumbo pack of Post Its and one hour to completely cover the walls of a small apartment. Also, dude, some of these were so scathing that they burned my skin when I took them off the wall.

These are Anglophiles, 'cause mine were absolutely filthy.

After determining Post-Its weren't sufficiently violent, wrote and popped some of the things we hated about dudes.

Note the areas of high-density pin placement.

Voodoo dolls. To stuff them, we wrote down things we used to like about the guys, then shredded 'em. (But before you get all z0mg-dark-energy with me, yes, I believe in karma too much to have actually wished ill on anyone. It was pretty positive energy.)

I'm not sure I can properly convey to you how filthy and absolutely brutal the pictures were. Probably a good thing there's no photographic evidence of most of them...

Putting the "eff you" in effigy. What up.

The Verdict: It’s funny. This is the first Valentine’s Day in five years that I’ve been single. It’s also hands-down the best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had — maybe one of the best days I’ve had, like, period. I thought all the V-Day man-bashing would feel too forced or stereotypical or just plain ol’ negative, but it was actually a pretty liberating night. One attempts to resist using the phrase “girl power,” but one doesn’t resist too hard.

The emphasis of the evening was less “I hope you get chlamydia of the face and die” and more like “dude, remember the shitty details and don’t let yourself get hung up on something that just really doesn’t matter that much.” Okay, okay, and there may have been a certain amount of emasculating joking. And doodling. And pin-sticking.

Still, this gets an A++ from me. Sometimes bitching about guys isn’t about men being idiots. It’s about remembering that the women you’re doing the bitching with are total badasses.

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NTKOG #77: The kind of girl who catches your eye in public then, brazen as you please, gives you her number so you can meet again.

I am: skeptical of the whole concept of giving strangers your number. What’re you supposed to say when you call? “Hey, remember me? We met waiting in line for the restroom at the ice cream parlor?” Heck no.

I am not: even currently dating.

The Scene: The Davis Square T station, waiting for an inbound train with Anglophile and Porn Star after seeing The Slutcracker (a must-see for you Bostonians! details during a special sluts-and-hula-hoops edition of TMI Thursday!). As we walked by, I noticed a dreamy guy standing alone by the platform and shot him intense live eyes. I figured nothing would come of it, as he was too cute to even be looking at me. But. Not only did he not look away, but he wandered close to us and kept looking at me. Big-time electricity.

I pulled a standard TKOG move: started being extra charming and funny in the conversation to catch his attention. After I made a joke, he laughed, so I engaged with him. A few pleasantries, then I told him we’d just seen The Slutcracker and recommended he see it. He would, he said, but he just moved to town and doesn’t have friends yet.

TKOG: Me too! Tell you what. I can be your friend.
Davis Square Dreamboat: I’d like that.
TKOG: So what do you do? Student? Grad student?
DSD: I’m a software engineer.
TKOG: Love.

He laughed like I was joking. Um, like I’d ever joke about my love for engineers. Then — heart in my throat — I asked if he had an iPhone; he said no. “Too bad,” I told him, “or I could bump you my contact info. There’s an app for that.”

“You could just give me your number the old-fashioned way,” he said, whipping out his phone. I gave him my number, and afterwards he typed in my name without even asking me to repeat it, even though I’d only said it in passing before. My heart puddled and slid around the floor like a Capri Sun commercial. I got his number too, then the train came.

On the train, he sat across from me, then started chatting again, so I sat near him, but left a buffer seat because I hate touching. After a bit of normal exchange, he put his arm on my elbow:

DSD: So now that we’re friends, what are we going to do when I call you?
TKOG: Something exciting. We could get acupuncture together! Or indoor skydiving! [he grimaced at these] Or we could go get a drink at a bar with the periodic table on the wall?

Long story short (TOO LATE!), we’re going to Miracle of Science on Wednesday night after my writing class. You guys. You guys! I have friggin’ BUTTERFLIES! I can’t remember the last time I had butterflies. Oh em gee. One other stellar moment from the interaction on the train. We had to shout a bit to hear each other better, so I scooted a few inches closer to him on the buffer seat:

TKOG: Sorry, is this too close? Am I invading your personal space?
DSD: No! Why would you ask that?
TKOG: I just have personal space issues.
DSD: Are you usually the invader or the invadee?
TKOG: Oh, the invadee. I’m like the friggin’ Poland of personal space. I try to be respectful because I know I don’t like it when other people get in mine.
DSD: Wait, so you wouldn’t like it if I did this?

And then he put his hand on my shoulder, like kind of close to my neck and — it is a Christmas friggin’ miracle: not only did I NOT freak out, but … I liked it. It felt, I mean, electric.

Aaaaaack!

The Verdict: Oh my gosh. So remember when I said I wasn’t going to date just for the sake of dating, and was going to wait to meet someone with whom lightning struck my heart at first glance, no matter how many months or years it took to find? Yeah, okay, so it apparently didn’t take as long as I thought it would. Gosh. Ever since we parted, I’ve been an all-singing, all-dancing tornado of giddiness. I’m so going to savor this feeling, so even if on Wednesday it turns out he loves Dan Brown novels and has an anime tattoo, at least I’ll have these few days to look back on fondly.

Of course this couldn’t have happened at a less convenient time in my personal/romantic life (going back to Vegas for two weeks, then The Ex is coming out to Boston to visit me), but I’d be an idiot not to pursue it. Because it turns out I am totally that kind of girl.

Also, in re: number giving: a really sweet girl who witnessed my T station pick-up started chatting with me afterwards, and we ALSO hit it off! I ended up getting her card and vowing to call her to go see some opera. And while I would usually just throw the card away, y’all know I’m actually going to do it. ROUSING SUCCESS!

Also, loves, remember you only have ’til 11:59pm tomorrow to enter MY GIVEAWAY! Get those last-minute entries in, or you’ll always regret it!

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NTKOG #61: The kind of girl who — you all knew this one was coming — meets someone through an online dating service.

I am: pretty happy being single, and, that aside, difficult for guys to favorably impress at the best of times.

I am not: terribly lucky when it comes to meeting guys on purpose. The only formative and positive relationships of my life have come during times when I was specifically not looking for anyone.

The Scene: OkCupid. I’ve heard great things about sites like eHarmony and Match.com, but at the end of the day, OkCupid is funny, it attracts a younger demographic, and — big point in its favor — it’s free. When I first made my profile, I was totally thrilled: not thousands, sure, but quite a few guys messaged me. Some of them wrote really clever and charming things! And I wrote them back equally clever and charming things! And then … they kept messaging?

After about a week on OkCupid, I realized online dating is way too much work for this girl. It was like having a keychain full of Tamagotchis: cute on the ride home from the store, but then they keep friggin’ wanting you to pay attention to them. I was bored yet flustered and about ready to call it a day, when I got a message from a guy who fulfilled, on paper, every single absurdly specific requirement I have for a man:

Over six feet fall. Culturally Jewish. Well-read. Into wordplay. A PHYSICIST.

I mean, holy shit, right? It’s like someone went through my bizarrely detailed personal want ad and checked every box. I was giddy for days. We messaged back and forth a bit, then started chatting on AIM, and soon we’d set up a date at (sigh!) the Museum of Science.

The day of the date, however, I was hit hard with my standard pre-event ennui. Still, I put on a decent outfit — four-inch heels, no less — and got on the T. Then somewhere along the way, it occurred to me: I haven’t had a first date with anyone since I was 18 years old. I’m … I’m not good at dating. A quick peek into my bag confirmed this. Inside, I was carrying two copies of Oprah Magazine, a blonde wig (explanatory post later), and a circa 1965 single-girl cookbook with the subtitle: “Dazzling Bachelor-Bait Recipes!” Good thing I wasn’t taking in a set of knives to get sharpened, or else I’d probably end up on a national registry somewhere.

When I got to the venerable museum (half an hour late — I hate the green line) and the guy and I met, my terrible-at-dating streak continued. He seemed very nice and we both pretty enthusedly went through the exhibits. But my first-date patter was Lifetime Movie bad. I mean, I kind of came off as a crazy person? Some truly stellar things I revealed within the first hour that I am commemorating here only as advice to you lovely people not to ever use them as first-date ice-breakers:

  • I have a thing about people. I don’t like to stand near them, in case they accidentally touch me. (Deals with the first-date kiss dilemma, anyway.)
  • I learned to read as a kid by going through my father’s joke books. I know the punchline of every joke ever and I will stop you if I’ve heard it.
  • Upon looking at an exhibit of vehicle engines: “I like looking at machines because they animate without any sort of governing magic. So they’re kind of like humans, but at the same time really sort of underscore the patent weirdness of the human experience. Our, y’know, awareness of. Said experience.”
  • When I’m trying to do something that you can’t do as well if you’re concentrating on it, I mentally repeat the US presidents in chronological order repeatedly until I am done.
  • I’m intensely afraid of fish. And thank god he didn’t want to see the butterfly exhibit so we didn’t have to broach that one as well.

Um, I’ll take “Shit That Makes You Sound Totally Crazy” for $1000, Alex. This would have been much more normal if I had been nervously word-vomming or totally flustered, but I really wasn’t. I was totally confident. I just — I guess I feel like I was trying to throw the fight for some reason. Like, frontloading this hurricane of neuroses to push him away.

Anyway, he wasn’t totally scared away, weirdly. After going through the exhibits, we hung out and chatted for about an hour, and the conversation was nice. He asked if there was anything about him I wasn’t expecting, based on his profile, and I said I thought six feet was a bit taller, then instead of asking him back, I just told him: “I talk more than you thought I would and I’m crazier, right?” To which he replied: “You talk about as much as I thought you would. About different things, though.”

Near the end of the date, I was checking my watch to see if I would make it to a Flip Your Wig pub crawl on time, then told him, “Look, let’s make this an event for the first-date hall of fame — do you mind?” So he held my coat while I went into the ladies’ room and reemerged with a headful of shiny-synthetic cascading blonde curls, then waved goodbye from the foyer (NO TOUCHING!) and dashed out into the rain.

I’m memorable, at least.

The Verdict: Online dating? I take away everything I’ve ever said about it. It seems like a perfectly safe, perfectly pleasant way to meet people whom you already know you have something in common with. As with all dating, just because you have a lot in common with someone obviously doesn’t mean there will be a love connection, but I guess it at least improves your odds. I would online date again. But I wouldn’t do it soon.

I spent yesterday, the day after the date, plunged in a weird quagmire of semi-depression, and not all of it can be blamed on the weirdly muggly coldness eating Boston right now. I realized I was completely terrible on the date because — this is probably a big surprise only to me — I’m not ready to start dating yet. I know I’m only three months out of a very happy four-year relationship, but I thought I was totally healed. I was weirdly, amazingly, inhumanly fine during the break-up. The Ex and I knew we were going to break up for the last six months we lived together, but things never got weird, we stayed in love, and I didn’t cry. Not even once. Not even when I was alone or on the phone with my mother or listening to Postal Service. I was eerily happy the whole time. The only tears I shed throughout the whole demise of my four-year relationship were after dropping him off at the airport on our very last night. Then I took my heartache and put it in a box and forgot about it.

And now, of course, it occurs to me that said box was shipped with the rest of my junk to Boston and very probably it would be in my best interest to unpack it. Not that the break-up itself was so very tempestuous or difficult, but it wasn’t nothing. My zero-tolerance policy for personal weakness (just my own; I’m okay with yours) might be a bit overbearing.

It’s not the break-up, or not just and concretely the break-up. I’m fine with The Ex and I going our separate ways, and I’m happy to be on my own. But when I think about it, I spent four years falling, every day, more in love with the same wonderful man. And he was just one (one very wonderful!) in a series. There has not been a single goddamn minute of my life the past ten years, maybe more, when I have not been or thought I was in love with someone. My adult life has been a sustained hysteria of want. And right now, what I want is not to want anything that requires anybody else.

Which … is a pretty heavy reaction to a single pretty-okay date. So maybe physicist would be right to assume I’m a total crazy person? (Also, ladies who have online dated, what is the protocol for telling someone you’re probably not in a good place for a second date? Do you have to facebook defriend? Why has the internet made etiquette so hard?! Share your thoughts, please!)

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NTKOG #38: The kind of girl who ignores perfectly good available tables in order to meet a new dining acquaintance while dining out on the town.

I am: fiercely possessive of my personal space while eating. One of the great pleasures in life is settling in to a tasty meal with a fantastic novel in front of you.

I am not: all too keen on watching anyone eat, anyway. It’s disgusting, all of that chewing and swallowing and digesting.

The Scene: The Italian hole-in-the-wall across the street from my apartment, which, though questionable in terms of culinary pleasure, has a quite enticing $5 lunch special. Perhaps because most of the city doesn’t have Columbus day off (empty laundromats! hooray!), the place is deserted except for a mid-30s guy in a shocking-yellow windbreaker waiting for his slices to come out of the oven.

I order my own slice and soda and stand by the counter, looking over the short story manuscript I am editing before the bastards in workshop can tear it apart, until my order is called. Then I pick up my plate, gesture to the seat in front of the man, and ask if I can join him. To my surprise, he does not even glance at the half-dozen empty tables around us before agreeing.

I go through the manuscript with my red pen for a while, then look up and he catches my attention:

Windbreaker: What are you working on?
TKOG: It’s a short story I wrote. I’m making some edits before I get started on a serious second draft.
W: Oh, cool. What’s it about?
TKOG
: Uh, it’s kind of about — a girl who — has gone through something kind of terrible and, well, sort of burns down a house.
W: Is she a druggie?
TKOG: No. She’s just going through some stuff.
W: Was she drinking? I’ll bet she was drinking?
TKOG: Vodka was involved, yeah. Ha, isn’t it always?
W: I can tell you about vodka. I know about vodka.

The writing on the chest of the windbreaker advertises a roofing company, and there are thick splotches of what I can only guess to be tar on the man’s dust-beiged jeans. There is a gaping, symmetrical vertex pushing out the top and bottom rows of his teeth, like maybe he sucked his thumb a few too many years as a child, or a few keystone teeth are missing from the arch of his jaw. I cannot tell which and am not inclined to attempt some surreptitious tooth-counting, as his mouth is full of chunks of unchewed sausage.

W: This one night I got into a car crash by where I live and I had ten vodka White Russians inside me. Fractured ribs, broken nose. I get in this accident by where I’ve lived all my life and the cop knows me, the ambulence guy knows me. The ambulence guy kept trying to make me go with them but I said I was fine, then the cop told me, ‘Look, you either go with them or you’re coming with me.’
TKOG: So you went with them, I’m guessing?
W: I had to.

The while time he is talking, he is chewing the same over-large mouthful. He works the pizza dough and chunks of meat into a thick paste that pushes out the crevices of his teeth when he moves his tongue. I push my half-eaten slice in front of me.

Pro Tip: Do not try to pick up literary/intellectual girls with your tales of drunk-driving bravado. Just do not.

Pro Tip: Do not try to pick up literary/intellectual girls with your tales of drunk-driving bravado. Just do not.

In an attempt to be polite, I stay with him, staring fixedly down at my papers but making cheerful responses, until he has massacred his last bite. Then I pick up my plate and smile up at him, telling him I have to get going.

W: Hey, maybe you can add a roofer to the story.
TKOG: Maybe the next one.
W: A drunken roofer!

The Verdict: People are terrible.

What’s up, men of Boston? Why are you — in this bastion of intellectual vitality — seriously grossing me the frig out this week? Aren’t there any long-fingered, quivering-anxious Hamlets running around, waiting to meet a girl with more IQ points than teeth? And also, just for fun, maybe you could have the correct number of teeth?!

I think that, properly executed, this technique could be useful, so I’m not ruling it out. Obviously I just need to be a bit pickier when choosing my future victims. Ugh.

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NTKOG #37: The kind of girl for whom life is her dressing room, and who flashes some skin as easily as most people flash a smile.

I am: modest; not naked.

I am not: even comfortable with some of the fashion trends endorsed by today’s youth, let alone removing them in public.

The Scene: A rainy Friday in Cambridge; I have left work for the day to interview for a job in one of the many institutions on the hahvahd campus. It is my intention to wear my totally gorgeous Serious Dang Interview Suit, but as the day is gray and drizzly and the suit costs half a month’s rent, I wear a normal shirt and cardigan to work, and am carrying a garment bag carrying the suit jacket and a sleeveless silk shell.

Under normal circumstances, pressed for time though I was in getting to the interview, I would have two option: changing into said suit before I left work, braving serious wrinklage; or else getting to the interview site exceedingly early, finding a nearby Starbucks, storming in and straight to the restroom (pantomiming the conveniently universal must-wash-hands-before-even-contemplating-ordering gesture), and then quickchange, sashay out, and problem avoided.

But what if in this strange, glorious world of ours, a third method might exist? After the forty minute bus ride, I hopped out of my bus to realize that the weather had slowed down to the barest drizzle. Before I turned onto the correct road for the interview, I gripped the garment bag with my teeth, peeled off my clothes down to a definitely-wouldn’t-wear-in-public cami in the ever-popular “girl’s gym class” mode of modest disrobement, snaked my clothes out of the bag, got suited up, and repacked the garment bag into my oversize purse. And you know what? Surprisingly not awkward. I mean, one guy walked past and asked, “Shouldn’t you have done that at home?” but otherwise, nobody took notice. Not even the cluster of Cambodian buskers I realized too late were standing only about a foot away from my quick-change act.

On the way home, the rain had picked up, and I decided to change back out of my suit while on the bus. On the way in, psyched to continue my experiment, I walked on to catch an eyeful of the belly of a totally shirtless dude. BEATEN TO THE PUNCH! Then it became evident that the guy, a cute-ish dude in the back of the bus with mushroom cloud hair, had merely accidentally removed his shirt wile taking off a sweater. The only seats available were in the back, near him, so I got myself situated on a side bench and followed suit on the whole, y’know, “clothes: now you see them, now … not so much?” maneuver.

Once everything was where it belonged and covering what it should, I looked back at the guy and saw him smirking.  “Hey,” I told him, “It looks like you started a trend back here.” But he couldn’t hear me, and left his stuff in his original seat to move a bit closer to me, although not in my bench. He asked why I was changing and I mentioned I’d had an interview; he was interested and polite, but kept stumbling over my use of simple phrases like “gatekeeper” and “psycho screening.” Great job, TKOG, I was just beginning to think — way to pick up a guy with a slight mental handicap, when the bus quieted and I realized he had a small accent. German. Interesting.

The conversation heated up further: for some reason, he made a reference to the show Big Bang Theory and said the guys on the show reminded him of himself; I asked if he was into physics and he said he had been (!!! To say I have a slight interest in physicists would be like suggesting Jack the Ripper had a mere passing fancy for prostitutes; although unlike Jack, my interest falls short of any internal organs–I’m sorry, what were we talking about?), but now studied theology. At this point, his original seat has been stolen and we’re shouting over the body of a man sitting between us, so I pat the empty seat next to me and he sits down, his knee grazing mine.

And then things get weird.

TKOG: So where in Germany are you from?
German Former Physicist: Munich.
TKOG: Oh, sweet! I’ve never been there, but I have a friend who lived in Berlin for a while, and absolutely loved it. I’ve been there too and would love to go back.
GFP: Ha! Berlin is [gurgles mucous in the back of his throat in lieu of a sufficiently offensive term] — nobody wants to go to Berlin. It is too liberal and socialist. The streets are filled with homosexuals and everyone believes in socialim. People from Munich are very conservative and Christian, and we do not want anything to do with Berlin.
TKOG: Oh. Yeah. Well, I mean, what’s considered conservative in Europe is often very liberal by US standards.
GFP: You are from California? Is it true that gay marriage was outlawed there? I thought it was overrun with homosexuals.

Detecting that he wasn’t going to drop the unpleasaant new theme of conversation, I starting giving monosyllabic grunts in response to his rants, but the floodgates were already open. For nearly ten minutes he went on a tirade about how socialists were bankrupting Germany and how they should be shot in the streets like dogs. Dear god, I thought, a puppy-killer on top of everything.

So, imagine this, mostly, but plus one Cosby Sweater, and replace the snazzy red bow tie with a crazed eye-gleam.

So, imagine this, mostly, but plus one Cosby Sweater, and replace the snazzy red bow tie with a crazed eye-gleam.

Finally the crazed young Joe McCarthy pulled his Cosby sweater back on and prepared to get off the bus — right at my stop. I waved goodbye and watched him walk off in the rain, before sneaking out of the bus at the next stop and skulking home through the homosexual and socialist-littered streets that I so adore.

The Verdict: Changing yo’ dang clothes in public: dude, not even a problem. The lesson is, I suppose, a recurring theme of this project: you are not the singular center of the universe, surprisingly enough, and if you want to do something, dude, just go ahead and do it. Nobody is going to give you a hard time, so might as well make life convenient for yourself.

The other lesson I learned through this experience? The same damn lesson we learn every day, Pinky: You can meet guys on the street or in a bus. Heck, you can even talk to guys you meet in the street or on a bus. But you cannot make any meaningful connection with said guys because they are all bunny-boilingly insane. Sigh.

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NTKOG #35: The kind of girl who flirts outrageously with men in order to parlay feminine wiles into fun cash and prizes.

I am: always up for engaging strangers in conversation, that much is true, but…

I am not: so hard up for complimentary pens and coffee that I’m prepared to whore out my personality for them. I mean, unless it’s like a really nice pen?

The Scene: The bagel place across the street from work. I ran out of cereal earlier this week and have been too busy writing my murder mystery party (tomorrow!!!) to buy another box, so it’s been bagels ahoy-hoy this week. My standard order is an everything with scallion cream cheese — ah, single life and its engraved invitation to indulge in eminently unkissable food! — but two days ago I was in a whimsical mood and picked up a triple chocolate-chip. Don’t judge.

There is a cashier in the Finagle I go to who is always very sweet to me, but I can’t tell whether it’s flirtation or not. He looks a little bit like Wayne Brady, but more of a warm glowy mocha skin tone, and some sort of facial hair situation. So yesterday I walk in and decide to figure out once and for all if he’s flirting — and see if I can get anything out of the bargain

I sashay in and basically set the place on fire with my radiance. There is no one behind me in line, so we chat — me, glowingly — about the abominable delight that is a dessert-for-breakfast bagel, which segues into my joking about
drinking beer cream floats for breakfast during undergraduate, which turns into a discussion of the Cambridge bar scene.

At one point in the exchange, I make a joke, and when he laughs, he reaches out and touches my forearm, lightly. I figure I’m set. We’ve already rung up the exchange, but I look at the coffee machine behind him. (Yes, I’ve become an occasional coffee drinker.)

TKOG: Oh, I forgot, I was going to get a coffee! [starts slowly reaching toward purse without breaking eye contact]
Enchanted Cashier: Oh, don’t worry about it.

He turns around and filled up a cup of coffe, then stops for a moment in front of the bakery display and wraps up a chocolate chip cookie. I glance behind me to see whether another customer has come in. No one has.

EC: Here, something sweet.
TKOG: Oh — wha — thank you, but I already bought breakfast.
EC: Come on, no one says no to a cookie. And now you won’t have to get a chocolate chip bagel tomorrow.
TKOG: Wow, you just saved me a lot of embarrassment in the morning. Of course, now I don’t have an excuse for beer and ice cream during my lunch break…

And then — AND THEN, you guys — I winked. A full-fledged movie-style wink. He smiled, I thanked him again, and I walked out of the store. Then totally, totally ate the cookie for lunch. ’cause, hey, free cookie!

The Verdict: Okay, don’t get all on my case about exploiting the dude for free coffee and baked goods. I mean, coffee is cheap as free and they always end up chopping up cookies for samples halfway through the day. Let us choose not to look at this as a case of an employee abusing the system, and instead look at it as a case of TKOG getting some free, quality baked goods. Score!

(Can you tell I feel guilty that he abused the system? Sadly, as much as I thoroughly enjoyed the exchange, I felt too guilty afterwards to fully endorse the experience. Flirting outrageously with guys behind cash registers, on the other hand: two thumbs up. Though of course some might say I was always that kind of girl.)

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