turner and hooch

In ALL, THE BOY by Stephanie Klein35 Comments

Turner and I liked to drink.  With a name like Turner I half expected it to be the case before we even met.  When we were just phone conversations and static photographs passed between emails and match.com profiles, he struck me as a WASP who liked very little blood in his Marys.  Turner, I thought, it’s like Classic Movies.  Then I imagined him in loafers and a classic button down shirt, the sleeves rolled, a sweater vest, and a cable knit sweater.  Far too many layers for a person, but on a mannequin, and in my country club imagination, it worked.  When I agreed to meet him, on Valentine’s Day, at Smith and Wollensky, I found myself looking for a walking mannequin with hair I could run my fingers through, and hoped for both our sake he was anatomically correct.  And I was right.  On all counts.  Except he didn’t wear cable knits. "I’m not gay."   On his best day, he looked like Hugh Grant and told me so.  But then he’d deny ever saying such a thing. 

I was at the point in my dating where I simply didn’t give a shit what it might have said about me that I had no other plans for Valentine’s Day.  I’d just come from jean shopping.  Because I was in a place in my life, where I actually did things like that.  Went jean shopping.  Not just regular, "Hmm, maybe I’ll find something I like in a cute store" shopping but, "I need yet another pair of jeans I can outgrow and feel like shit about."  When I charged into Smith and Wollensky, all I really cared about was sitting.  I’d walked far too many blocks in heels.  Once I secured a seat, I surveyed the room for Mannequin Man.  He wasn’t there yet, which left me time to primp and perhaps get a drink in.

At the time, I was no whiskey girl.  I drank sweet mostly-clear things, like Stoli Vanilla mixed with Sprite or ginger ale.  Never pink things with puree or cranberry juice.  And never a cosmo (I don’t even like the word), though I did like a good French martini, foam and all. Sometimes a floating orchid or a sugared rim, but only if it was the specialty drink of some bar known for its spectacular adult beverages. I didn’t like what a pink girly drink said about who I thought I was. I was tougher than pink.  I didn’t want to be like every other girl and somehow believed if I had a handbag without an obvious label (or no handbag at all), and my drink was man enough, I’d have less of a stereotype to work against.  "Single girl at bar."  How fucking predictable.  How terribly ordinary.  So I made a practice of going alone.  Okay, not really a practice, but at least once a week. Sometimes I wouldn’t even drink.  But alone at a bar, when you’re not awaiting a date or for a friend to join you, I thought, said something about who I was.  I’m not afraid of what you think, and that makes me different than any woman you’ve met around here.  It gave me a good start.  Except, I was just like every other woman at those bars. I wanted to meet someone.  Not just someone.  I wanted it all.  The I love yous, lazy weekends, a date to weddings where I’d know there was at least a chance it could be us up there at the altar.

On the unremarkable match.com night we met at Smith and Wollensky, Turner was wearing a dark pinstripe suit, a uniform I called, "The Lawyer."  I’d finished a glass of red wine by the time he arrived, and just before he had, I wondered if I was being stood up.  It’s okay, I thought, it’ll be like something out of a classic movie.  I’ll get stood up, and another man will show up, the man I truly should have been waiting for all my life anyway.  Because life would work that way, should work that way.  When we think it can’t get any worse, stood up on Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t get worse.  I lived in these scenarios, weighing the chances, and wondered if anyone in the room was my destiny.

Turner began with a panting apology, rambled on about work detaining him, then he ordered a double whiskey.  I wondered if really he’d been on an earlier match.com date that hadn’t worked in his favor.  Once he settled in and had a chance to breathe, he smiled, as if he’d been caught at something, then told me I was a vision.  Maybe he was gay.

He insisted his hair was red. "Auburn" he said.  I guess it was.  His beard, when the stubble came in, some of it was red, so I gave him that.  He smelled like Aveda hair products. I called him Aveda Boy, which he said he hated, but he laughed each time I said it, and I knew it made him feel loved having a nickname. He wasn’t the type of guy to ever have a nickname, not really a guy’s guy.  He was lucky he was handsome.

We drank enough.  He needed to return to the office and insisted he have the car drop me off at home.  He wouldn’t let me leave without agreeing to a proper dinner date.  He didn’t need to insist.  I liked him.  6’3", Yale Law, superior law firm, handsome, and what I liked most: how much he seemed to like me.  Story of my life.  I walked into my apartment empty handed and drunk.  I’d forgotten my jeans at Smith and Wollensky.  Turner, after learning as much from one of my drunk emails, said he’d called the restaurant and that I could pick them up any time. 

On our first official date, which wasn’t a meet and greet as much as it was that insisted upon dinner–because I didn’t count the first meeting as a first date, unless food was involved– when I was living on the Upper Least Side, still in my "hospital housing," there was a snowstorm, rendering the evening down to pushing him into a cab, so he could make it back to the Upper West Side, or pulling him away from one so he’d spend more time with me. 

We stood in the cold, the wind whipping ropes of hair into my lipgloss.  My fists were trying to hide in my sleeves.  I could see my breath.  We’d just finished a bottle of red and shared a dessert.  And then we found ourselves in the cold, snow beginning to stick, standing like two people hoping to find a cab, yet hoping very much that no cab would come at all. 

When a cab became available to us, I clawed my way across the seat, and Turner slid in behind me.  Then we did our "Holy shit!  It’s so fucking cold out!" routine.  First date and already we had a routine.  The plan was to drop me off then to head west.  I should have been sending him on his way.  Instead, I pulled him out of the cab with me and invited him upstairs to "meet Linus."  He was psyched.  I liked his company, and he adored Linus.  Seriously loved the Lineman.  Called him Labrinus.  I felt, even that early on, the balance of our relationship and knew I’d be the one who called the shots.  He liked it that way.  Loved taking me out, loved how much I loved food, and loved when I cooked.  He liked to be entertained.  My friends called him a dud. 

"He doesn’t add anything to your life."  But I liked that about him, that he wasn’t hungry for attention, that he was simply happy to be told what to do.  Most likely he grew up with a firecracker of a mom, or older sister, with a quiet father.  I liked that he was never "me me me," and so easy to be around.  And he loved my "me me me."  So it worked.  I liked that he liked when I made fun of him, liked his laugh, liked his emails and fingers.  Liked. Until I wanted more.  He struggled with more. 

That first date turned into The Marathon Date.  He slept over and agreed to watch my chick flicks, allowing Linus to sleep between us.  We made out.  He wasn’t an extraordinary kisser, nor a particularly bad one.  He was soft.  In so many ways.  When we awoke in the morning, and attempted to air out Linus on a walk to Fourbucks, we realized the gravity of the snowstorm.  Cars were snowed in.  The streets weren’t cleared.  All of Manhattan was closed.  We were open to anything. 

Incidentally Dulce had an overnight date with her ex, only a few hospital housing floors away.  She, too, was snowed in and unable to get home.  So I welcomed her in for our date, where I composed Wolfgang’s Chinese Mustard Chicken Salad–I surprisingly had all the ingredients on hand.  Then I baked two batches of cookies.  Before long Dulce made it back to her side of town.  Turner and I decided to spend another night together.  Drinking.  Then spent the next day together, too, brunching, more movies.  He eventually needed to change his clothes and go home.  As he left my apartment, he ran into The Wasband in the lobby of our building.  Ran into, isn’t right.  "I saw him," Turner phoned to say on his walk to thrid avenue for a cab.  Turner and Gabe had gone to undergrad together, though they didn’t know each other. This detail, realizing Turner knew exactly who Gabe was, made me somehow think it made him want me more.  "What an idiot," he’d said of Gabe.  "He’s pretty horrible in a liar with a starched collar and polished shoes kinda way.  It’s creepy."  So was his description of it all.  But we toasted to it just the same on another date.  We weren’t sure which number date it was now that The Marathon Date had kicked into play.  But we drank to new beginnings and fresh starts.

Like I said, Turner and I liked to drink.  We didn’t lick booze off each other or do body shots.  We weren’t one of those couples that fed off each other, literally or otherwise. He hated his job, so he liked to drink on Sundays enabling him to spend his one day off without dreading his Monday.  I loved my job.  And my drink.  I didn’t make excuses.  We drank whiskey, on the rocks, though sometimes neat when I ran out of ice cubes, but then he was mostly the one who drank. 

Turner drank Jack when he came over.  And then he’d kiss me, and lick my neck, and I began to associate the taste with sex and Radiohead’s Karma Police.  So I began to drink Jack and Gingers, until I thought it was cooler to just drink Jack on the rocks.  I never drank it neat, aside from an occasional tip of his, but I thought, and still think, I’d be cooler if I did. 

Turner and I loaded up on liquor and mussels, brunch beneath awnings, dog run with Linus, then I’d beg him to play me his acoustic guitar. And he would, but he wouldn’t sing. That’s when he began to play me Radiohead.  Then I’d attack him.  I told him to talk dirty to me, but he didn’t know what to say and said as much.  I left it at that and decided to try to figure out how to get that need met when we weren’t in the throes of it.  Eventually, because of his inability to commit to more with me, we became "just friends," which he came to admit was a serious mistake on his part.  But I’ll get to all that much later, particularly when discussing The Blackout, and how he showed up at my apartment, despite my being involved with Oliver.  The point is, once we were "just friends" he also confided, "you’d be really proud of me now.  I can now talk dirty."  Yeah, with a twenty-year-old whose first language was not English.  Good for you, Turner.  "Baby steps, baby" he said.  I laughed, and then he offered to show me.  "How ’bout I just take your dirty word for it Aveda Boy."  Then he laughed, and I missed the way we used to be, but knew he wasn’t capable of more with me, despite how much he insisted otherwise.  Then we grabbed a drink.

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  1. classic, single-girl, stephanie stories! i can't wait to read more! now that i'm in a live-in relationship i'm missing my single days (just a little).

  2. Love, love, love it. Better than heavy cream in my coffee. Looking forward to more.

  3. I'm re-reading Straight Up and Dirty and after having read your blog and getting a better sense of your voice it's even more delicious the second time around! I wasn't gonig to buy Moose, but there's no doubt in my mind anymore that it will be mine as soon as it's out!

    FROM STEPHANIE: Why weren't you going to buy Moose, just out of curiosity? And thanks Anna.

  4. I love the chick-lit sassy feel of both your book and post such as these. What really makes them pop for me and keeps me coming back for more is the simple fact that it's all autobiographical. (with names changed to protect the not so innocent) So it's like the great juicy gossip or date details your friend finally spills over boozy drinks and apps. You are a rockin scribe with a great turn of phrase. I look foward to more.

  5. I really liked this post, it reminded me of the part in your book about Oliver, which was atually my favorite part that I re-read a few times.

    You asked why someone else wasn't thinking about getting Moose, I'm not sure I will either; I guess I'll flip through it in the bookstore when it comes out to see if there are other things besides just the weight issues that I can relate to more.

    FROM STEPHANIE: You'd be surprised actually how little weight loss stuff is in there. It's much more a coming of age book about my relationship with my mother, how much I wanted to be popular, and in the end, what happens when our best intentions turn toxic. It's about friendships and fitting in… to more than just a smaller size.

  6. "We stood in the cold, the wind whipping ropes of hair into my lipgloss. My fists were trying to hide in my sleeves. I could see my breath. We'd just finished a bottle of red and shared a dessert. And then we found ourselves in the cold, snow beginning to stick, standing like two people hoping to find a cab, yet hoping very much that no cab would come at all."

    This was my favorite paragraph. It provided me with the most powerful imagery. Very good.

  7. This is so much fun to read. It reminds me of SUAD, which got me hooked on your blog in the first place. Loved the book, love the blog – the way it was then, and the way it is now. It shows how far you've come. I didn't comment the other day about it being "your blog", etc b/c I didn't want to go on and on and sound like I was kissing your ass, but you really have changed and inspired me, and yes, you do entertain me. So, thank you! I'm looking forward to Moose. I'm wondering, though, do stories like this seem like a lifetime ago to you, since your life seems to have changed so dramatically?

    FROM STEPHANIE: Yes and no. I know it was all so long ago, yet it remains so familiar, like returning to a city. It always amazes me what it is our brains choose to remember, or hold onto. I remember so much that things seem closer than they are. I think it comes down to this: when you think of school and your friendships, overall, first thing that comes to mind….think of it now. Got it? That overall thought, or particular friend?

    Did you picture that friend or moment in college? High-school? Or grade school? I tend to live in the younger moments, and when I recall friends from school, I remember some of us in fifth grade. Before many of us wore bras. It's why I wrote Moose. It's all about that time in my Judy Blume of a life.

  8. How does Phil feel when you write so vividly about your sexual encounters, dates, past boyfriends? My boyfriend dislikes when I talk about my ex or things I did with him. Does your husband have anything to say about that?

  9. I loved this post, it felt like the early days of the blog and especially like the book, but that's not why I liked it- I love what you write now.

    I guess I was wondering where you were going with this. You always have a subject, and this felt more like a story you were telling. What was the inspiration?

    FROM STEPHANIE: The inspiration was… I wondered what on the blog already I could expand on, and realized I had written the black out post but never included what happened to me personally. And to tell that story in its fullest, it's important to establish "the players" and our past before getting to exactly what I'd left out. So really, this post was just part 1, perhaps of many parts, or perhaps of just a few more. Who knows.

  10. I've read your blog for quite a while now, and can't describe to you how inspiring and entertaining and appealing your writing is to me. Read Straight Up & Dirty, and can't wait for Moose!

    Thanks for not taking anybody's shit.

  11. Nicely written. Curious as to if you have diaries that you refer back to for details or they're just in your memory?

    FROM STEPHANIE: I do have diaries, but I don't need to refer back for details. Not from events just a few years ago. For stuff that happened in sixth grade, though, yeah.

  12. I've always admired women who have the confidence and fearlessness to go to a bar alone. A very close friend of mine — now married for the 2nd time and older than me (much older than you) — used to drop in to a local sports bar after work, chit chat with whoever was there, have a drink and head home. I always wondered where she got the courage to do it. Restaurants and movies and shopping I'm happy to do solo, but not a bar.

    If this post could be pulled over by a cop, it would have to take a sobriety test. It's so evocative, it practically smells of alcohol.

  13. Stephanie, Thanks for your response, and yes, I know exactly what you mean. I tend to think back further too. I remember all my elementary school teachers names as if I were still there, yet I can only recall a couple of names of college professors. The "older" yrs are more blurry, and no, it's not b/c I was drunk through it all. I also have vivid memories of camp, which is why I am looking forward to Moose. I love when you write about camp b/c some of my best memories come from those days. While I'm rambling, there are songs that also take me back to a specific time. If I hear Hotel California, I immediately think of Friday nights at Skateland. Ok, I could go on and on. I love the Judy Blume days too. Thanks for taking me back. Btw, my daughter is just starting to read her now. Scary and exciting at the same time.

  14. God remember Blubber? I think that was my favorite. I was both tortured by it and in love wth it. I can still smell the pages of that book if I concentrate. I loved all of Blume's stuff. And I totally forgot about Just as Long as We're Together. Didnt a dog die in that one? I think remember crying. I could be thinking of a different book. I should dig that one up and read it again while im taking a poo or something. :D

  15. BTW, not a bar, but other spaces have witnessed me arriving unaccompanied. I've done it for so long now that I have no residue of self-consciousness remaining and that is entirely liberating. I never wait for anyone to decide if they want to go to something or miss something because nobody is free.

    Being able to sit alone with the aftermath of a film, ballet or play has even become preferable. I find staying in the moment harder when friends want to dissect the narrative immediately, and sometimes it is fun to unpack the performance, but other times I need time for reflection before I collect my thoughts or know what I think.

    Don't get me started on the opportunities travelling alone offers, but I hasten to add that in parallel, I am actively avoiding any danger of turning into a hermit!

  16. I am curious along with SL967. You talk so vividly about your past romantic encounters and something tells me it would bug you if Phil wrote stuff like that for the world to see. I am just curious and this is not meant as an attack. I know, of course, Phil isn't an author and if he was when you met him and he wrote about the things you write about, you would probably not have been with him. I am just curious because I think over the time that I have read your blog you posted once about how you both agree not to talk about ex's, or have them as friends? I am parapharsing here, but I remember a posting you wrote on it. — so, how do you have that rule, and then write the way you do? (I also understand this is a job and you make money and a living as a writer, but it seem strange) Is it one of those things that fits into the catagory of "do as I say, not as I do?" Again, it's just a question, not an attack. I like the way you write, even if I don't always agree. Blogs for me are like online novels and the best part is, they are novels that can keep going. The never ending free book ;)

    Be well.

    FROM STEPHANIE: It might bother him on principle, the idea that I would hate it if he were the one to write these things, yet I still do it. That I could definitely see with him. However, just based on insecurity or jealousy or fear, he has none when it comes to us, so no, on posts like this he "could care less." He also knew what he was getting into when he married a girl who was working on a book titled Straight Up and Dirty.

  17. You know, when I read "Straight up and Dirty" last summer, it struck me that I always fall for the "idea" I have of the man I'm dating, not with the real guy that is actually standing in front of me.
    It struck me because you seemed to have the same attitude, and many other women do that too.
    I alway hope that this is the One, and I look at him, hearts in my eyes, thinking he's soooo cute and nice just because he smiles at me and tells me that I have great legs/skin/brain..
    No need to tell you how many times I got disappointed.
    So now I'm trying very hard to take it easy, know the person I'm dating, ask myself what I really like about him before deciding I'm head over heels in loooove with him.
    But it's hard, as any bad habit, to kick it.
    All this to tell you, Stephanie, that I loved you book, can't wait to read Moose (is it coming out in Europe the same time as in the U.S.?)
    Un Abbraccio virtuale :-)

  18. "Misuse of the comma, let me count the ways."

    Clementine: I am employed as a magazine editor and even I find your comment obnoxious!

  19. Ooh, I really like this post. Is it something new you've written? I skimmed through the comments, and think it is? Very nice; great descriptions.

    Does Phil talk dirty?!?!?!

  20. For some reason this post made me think of one of my favorite movies ever, The Way We Were. And it made me want to have a drink…

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