Animal Nurse

Tad chewed the leg of my chair and got a splinter of wood stuck in his stomach.

At least that’s what they said at the emergency animal hospital!

He was throwing up and Chloe said I should take him to the vet. The vet did an x-ray and said there was definitely something in there. So onto the pet hospital where they did an ultrasound and an endoscopy. (All in, getting Tad healthy again cost $4,200.)

Chloe went with me to the hospital and the nurse who was on Tad’s case came and sat down with us to explain the procedure. This woman was amazing. She was pretty, but not gorgeous. But that wasn’t what was so attractive about her. She had the most amazing, outgoing personality. She was playing with Tad’s hair while she talked to us and she was just so friendly and I don’t know, cool. It was weird because Chloe was right there with me as I was going gaga for this nurse. Not to mention the fact that I was supposed to be focused on Tad, not swooning for this nurse.

Anyway, nothing happened, obviously. Would have been a bit uncool to ask her out in front of Chloe. But I am constantly amazed at how important personality is in making a person attractive.

Cheesecake Guy

Went to see Bad Teacher with Chloe at the Arclight in Sherman Oaks (because you can reserve your seat–totally worth it).

The only bad thing about the Galleria is that there are very few places to eat and no stores to browse in. So left with few choices, we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner before the movie.

Now I’m not one of those people who decries chains like the Cheesecake Factory as symptomatic of the decline of society. All things being equal I’d probably choose somewhere else, but the food is actually pretty decent. The problem with the Cheesecake Factory is that everyone else in the world seems to think it’s a fine dining experience and that makes the place too damn crowded.

We put our name down and were told it would be a 20-30 minutes wait. I was ready to bolt, but Chloe is more patient than I (by a factor of 93) and said we would wait. Of course, there’s nowhere to sit down, just a massive crowd of people waiting to get seated. So I made the best of the situation and turned to the guy next to me (wearing a Lakers jersey) and said, “I should just wait until they beep me and then sell my beeper to the highest bidder.”

He thought that was a good idea. He said, “Yeah, you could come here every night and auction off your place.”

“Sounds like a great business plan,” I replied. “Like we stand outside yelling, ‘I got a table for 6 in five minutes, table for 2 in ten, who needs a table for 8? I got a table for 8 and it’s beeping right now!'” I acted out the ticket scalper routine which he seemed particularly familiar with.

The bit ended and I turned back to Chloe. She was looking at me a little oddly. She said, “Do you know that guy?” I said no, I was just making conversation. She said, “You know, I’ve noticed that you talk to strangers a lot. Like when we were in Vegas you talked to that guy at the roulette table for like an hour.”

So I made a decision. Over the course of dinner, I told Chloe about the Talk to Strangers project. (I didn’t mention the blog. Baby steps.) She thought it was a cool thing I was doing. Especially when I told her that’s how I met her.

Hotel Bar Woman

This story doesn’t end how you think. I did not meet a lonely businesswoman in the hotel bar and wind up in bed with her.

I did, however, meet a lonely businesswoman who wanted to go to bed with me. At least I’m pretty sure she did.

After a long day of looking at incredibly boring documents, I went back to the hotel to change out of my suit. These trips used to be more fun when I was more junior because then a couple other associates would go with me and we’d go nuts each night trying to outdrink each other and pick up women. But now, I’m senior enough to go alone and at night, the last thing I want to do is party with the client.

So I went down to the bar to get a beer before ordering room service. That’s when I saw her. A woman in her late-thirties, sitting alone, reading on her iPad. I immediately had a time-warp sensation like it was 1977, or at least I was in some movie set in the 70’s. The way these things are supposed to go is I buy her a drink and ask her what her sign is.

That being the case, I was very hesitant to go up to her. It just all seemed a bit too… obvious. Like how could I seem authentic with no agenda when an entire body of literature says otherwise (thanks, Jackie Collins).

But I tried anyway. I said, “What are you reading?”

She looked up and studied me before answering, “Unbroken.”

I had no idea what that was so I just said, “You waiting for someone?”

She said, “Nope.”

I said, “Well, I’m here on business and I hate to eat alone. Want to join me?”

She looked at me again, trying to figure out if I was attempting to pick her up. I felt her stare and blurted out, “Just dinner.”

That made her smile and she said, “Sure.”

So I sat down and we talked. She is a corporate lawyer working on a debt restructuring. I actually found it interesting because I do similar work. We ate at the bar, talked for ninety minutes or so, and that was it.

At the end of the meal, I said, “Well, it was nice meeting you” and started to get up. Then she looked at me, kind of insulted, and “Wait, where are you going?”

It was suddenly awkward. I had said “just dinner,” hadn’t I? I got a little flustered and said, “I’ve got to go over these documents…” as if I had some papers with me, which I didn’t.

She looked hurt. Like, I had told all the necessary lies so that our tryst could seem innocent and now I was backing out of our tacit agreement. The whole thing got pretty weird.

So I just ran away.

Maybe I should have seen what might have happened. She was attractive and it’s not like me and Chloe are so far along that we’re monogamous (at least that’s my position). But I felt like I had gone into the situation by being honestly Platonic and that if I somehow changed my mind then I’d be making myself into a liar. Or something like that.

Chicago!

I am in Chicago. Sometimes I have to go to stupid places like Chicago on business so I can do due diligence. Whatever.

Here’s what I decided to do on the plane. I challenged myself to talk to the person next to me, no matter who it was, for more than a couple minutes. But, I had to do so in a non-annoying way so the person didn’t that I was that guy who won’t shut up. In other words, I had to get the person next to me to do most of the talking.

So as I got into my aisle seat, I eagerly awaited the person whom fate would deal me. Would it be a friendly old lady? Too easy. A hot blonde? Too tough. Nope. It was Middle-Aged Marine Guy.

MAMG didn’t actually serve in the Marines, he just looked like he did. You know the type. Crew cut of grey hair, muscular, tight polo shirt. At first I thought he was an air marshal but he when he opened his laptop and started working on the sales presentation for industrial pumps, I thought that was going a little too undercover for a marshal.

How to launch in? I couldn’t comment on what he was working on because he might have punched me in the throat for looking at his secret presentation. Weather? Too obvious.

Then it hit me. Chicago!

“Are you going away or coming home?” He was coming home.

“Oh, so maybe you can help me. I’ve only been to Chicago once before. Do you know any good places to eat? I really want to get some good pizza but I’m afraid of winding up at some tourist trap.”

And that’s really all it took. He had strong opinions about pizza. He told me where to get every kind of food I wanted and even said he could get me tickets to a baseball game.

MAMG has five kids and two grandkids, which is surprising because he doesn’t look that old. He’s the regional sales manager for an industrial pump manufacturer. He was never in the Marines, though he did play football at Notre Dame (not sure how that was related but that’s what he said).

Anyway, mission accomplished. We talked for about half the flight before he went back to work. I chalked it up as a victory.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Tad is staying with Chloe while I’m gone.

Commissioner Gordo

Gunther came by last night with that nut-job Gordo. Apparently, their GPS-enabled sneakers found a backer.

Seriously. Some moron gave these two idiots half a million dollars to go into production. (If you don’t remember the idea, it’s to put GPS tracking devices in sneakers that are linked to Twitter or Facebook so when you turn it on, everyone knows exactly where you are all the time.) They are calling the shoes “Trakkers.”

Initially I thought, “Why would anyone want to be tracked? Why would anyone want the world to know where they are every second of the day? Don’t people value privacy?”

Then I remembered that no, no one wants privacy anymore. Everyone wants the exact opposite: fame. We are becoming so narcissistic as a society with useless status updates and tweets that of course we want people to know where we are. How else would all our “friends,” “fans,” and “followers” stay in touch with our every inane thought and move?

I know I’m not the first to say it, but it needs to be said again: Most people have little if anything interesting going on in their lives. Not everyone can be a celebrity. Not everyone deserves an audience.

Maybe this is hypocritical. After all, I’m writing this blog, aren’t I? Is the implication, “You have nothing worthwhile to say but I do”?

I guess the difference is, I only post my interactions with strangers (and some updates on my love life) when they are interesting and on topic. I don’t post “Go Bruins!” or “I hate my boss!” And I don’t tell you where I am all day long!

So long story short, I will not be buying Trakkers. Will you?

Random Act of Kindness

Okay, this isn’t really talking to strangers, but I was walking in the parking garage and a crazy idea struck me.

I got a piece of paper out of my car and wrote the following note:

“Hi, I saw you getting out of your car and just wanted to say how hot I think you are.”

I didn’t sign it and I tried to write it in gender-neutral handwriting. Then I picked a car at random and placed the note under the windshield wipers.

I figured no matter who gets the note, there’s no reason not to believe it. Guys and girls can both be “hot.” Even if it’s an old lady, maybe she’ll think it was an old guy who left the note.

Anyway, that’s it. If you’re the one who received my note, please let me know if you were happy to get it.

Free Bacon Upgrade

I just got back from the dentist (just a cleaning) and I have to tell you, the periodontist or whatever she’s called (the lady who actually cleans my teeth), that’s someone who is great at talking!

And what’s amazing about her is that she can have a whole conversation without you responding in any way.

“How’s work going?” she begins, though she knows you can’t answer with anything more than a shrug and an “Unh.”

Then she launches into her daughter’s college graduation. How she just moved back home. She doesn’t have a job yet. She lost her shoes in the move back home. “I’m lucky I haven’t had to update my resume in thirty years.” In her day, you used to line up a job senior year of college, you didn’t wait to move back home before you start looking.

My responses were a series of “hm,” “unh,” and “uh huh”‘s.

I think my technique of actually listening to the other person and having a two-way conversation is more satisfying. But she must be used to droning on and never getting any response.

After the cleaning, I stopped at a new salad place where you check boxes next to a list of ingredients and they make the salad to order. I noticed there were two bacons listed. So I asked the pretty, young salad-maker what the difference was.

She said one was bacon bits and the other was real bacon. I said, “Why would anyone choose bacon bits over real bacon?”

She said the real bacon was more money.

I said, “I don’t care if it costs a hundred dollars. I want the real bacon.”

So she made my salad and when she rang me up, she whispered, “Free bacon upgrade.”

I looked around conspiratorially and put my finger to my lips in a “shh” motion. Then I put the $1.50 change in the tip jar.

Before I left I said, “I will think of you when I eat this bacon, and I mean that in only the most innocent way possible.”

She laughed and I went back to work to eat my salad.

TAD

Guess who just moved in and is living with me now?

Wrong, not Chloe. Wrong again, not my old roommate Scott. I am now the proud owner of one mangy mutt named The Artful Dodger, or “Tad” as he likes to be called.

Time was running short on Tad and I decided I wanted to do this. Chloe did not exert any pressure on me. She even gracefully ignored my prior lie about them not letting pets in my apartment complex. (She said, “I knew it was a fib but I didn’t want to talk you into anything you didn’t want to do.” P.S. Who says “fib”?)

I took him home yesterday and the good news is he’s mostly already trained. My apartment is obviously new to him so there were some first day accidents but I think Tad is smart and he’ll get the hang of it. My only real fear is what he’s going to do all day long when I’m at the office. Chloe says he’ll be fine as long as I get him exercise in the morning and when I get home.

Getting Tad was a little tricky emotionally. It’s not like Tad is Chloe’s dog, too, but still, I think it will be weird if Chloe and I don’t work out and Tad never sees her again. Still, things are really moving quickly with Chloe and Tad is really bringing us closer together. I hardly ever think about Michelle anymore.

Carver Carver

Okay, one last post about Vegas and then I’ll move on to current events.

Chloe and I ate the buffet at Planet Hollywood on one occasion (it had to be done) and it’s always amazing to see the spread of food they have. It’s as if someone asked, “What kind of food should we have in our buffet?” and then a big fat tycoon laughed diabolically and said, “All of them! Ha ha ha ha!”

Anyway, we split up since Chloe is a vegetarian and I went to the prime rib station. There I saw a chef guy in a big white hat slicing pieces of prime rib to order. And on his chest was a tag that read, “Carver.”

I actually flinched for a second, confused, and just instinctively blurted out, “Is ‘Carver’ your name or your job description?”

“It’s my name. How would you like your beef, sir?”

“Wait. Sorry for being so nosy, but is it your first name or your last name?”

“My first name. Would you like it medium rare or more well done?”

“So your parents named you Carver and you got a job as a carver. Isn’t that weird?”

“You’re holding up the line, sir.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll take a rare piece please.” But I couldn’t stop myself. “Do you think they assigned you the carving station because of your name, like as a joke?”

“Here’s your prime rib, sir.”

He placed the slice on my plate and that was it. He turned to the next customer and made it clear that he wasn’t going to be talking to me anymore.

On the way back to the table, I reminded myself that people have had their names their whole lives and it’s next to impossible to think of anything clever to say about it that they haven’t already heard a million times. Still, it did occur to me that if he married Shia LaBeouf, he’d be Carver LaBeouf.

How-To Guide

The blog has seen a huge increase in traffic in the last month.

No idea why, but here’s my advice for the best way to figure out what the hell I’m talking about. First, read the manifesto. There’s a link in the right column. Second, sort the posts chronologically, using the pull-down menu above the manifesto link and choosing “Sort by Date ASC.” And if the mood strikes you, leave a comment. Nobody else seems to, so there are a lot of opportunities to claim “first.”