Wednesday, October 30th 2002

posted @ 2:16 am in [ - - ]

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Friday, October 25th 2002

posted @ 6:06 pm in [ ]
It’s happening again. Another James Bond movie is coming out in a matter of mere weeks! If I were into guilt, James Bond would be a guilty pleasure of mine. (As it is, more of a gilty pleasure, ho ho…) Now, I know I’m not supposed to like James Bond movies. All that sexism and secret agent whoring around and unethical political behavior and exloding vehicles, so little discourse. Honestly, though, I really like a lot of explosions in my movies, and I probably wouldn’t be an international relations scholar today if it weren’t for 007.

I like the gadgets. I like the explosions. I like James’ really stupid jokes. I like the incredibly stupid names of the women he boinks. I like the way the clothes and the furniture and the vehicles look. I like the ridiculous plot points. I like the music. I like the wacky fight scenes. I like the exotic locations. I like the villains’ lairs and elaborate plots. I like the underwater action shots. I like that Pierce Brosnan has stopped that really faggy prancing he did in Goldeneye, although he really is still too pretty to be Bond.

If you’ve seen *all* the Bond movies again and again, including the non-Broccoli ones, you know that there is not a single one that the original Austin Powers doesn’t spoof. You know that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was by far the most anomalous one, with the one-time Bond, George Lasenby (in a kilt no less, rowrrrrrrr!) getting rescued by Diana Rigg and then marrying her minutes before Telly Savalas’ goons bust a cap in her ass (who loves ya, baby?). You know that You Only Live Twice has by far the most gadgets, including the incomparable Little Nelly. You know exactly how many casinos Bond visits and how many underwater fight scenes he’s been in, and that Michele Yeoh wasn’t the first Bond babe to kick ass. My personal pre-Yeoh favorite would have to be Melina from For Your Eyes Only: a natural low-bullsh*t beauty with a crossbow. More recently, I’ve wanted Teri Hatcher to get whacked for quite some time now, so Tomorrow Never Dies was rather satisfying in that regard.

Of course, everybody knows Connery was by far the best Bond. He’s closer to looking the part, too. In the books, Bond looks a lot like Hoagie Carmichael–he’s not supposed to be a pretty boy like Prancy Pierce. Roger Moore was probably the worst one, although he did more of the movies than any of the other Bonds. Toward the end there, all those face lifts were really taking their toll, too. Every time he responded to something another character was saying, it looked like his eyeballs might fall right out of his head. Also, the wind would blow his turkey wattle around and not his hair.

You know what I never figured out? How come the villains don’t just put a Baccarat table at the edge of a cliff? When Bond comes running over, they can just shove him right off.

My favorite Bond movie moment is probably still when I went to see The World is Not Enough with my friend Michael (yes, the same one who read to me). Michael is something of a lecherous world traveler himself, and also an international relations scholar, so I knew it would be a treat to see it with him. At one point, they showed an establishing shot of a building and subtitled it “Baku”, and Michael said incredibly loudly and with great disgust, “Oh, *that’s* not Baku!” People turned around and shushed and everything. Only Michael could get away with that kind of proclamation.

I could go on and on, but I can tell I’m starting to scare you. Let me just say how delighted I am that we’re getting another Bond movie and leave it at that.

Friday, October 18th 2002

Smutty Literature
posted @ 9:12 pm in [ - ]
One of my most abiding passions is smut lit. I’m not talking about short pieces that begin, “Dear Penthouse, you’re not going to believe this, but…”. I’m talking about the good stuff: Nabokov, Donne, Nin, Clelland, Whitman, Apuleis, the list goes on. I don’t drink blended scotch and I don’t read weak smut. As it is a conceit of the modern age that we invented sex for fun, I highly recommend smut lit, alone or with a friend. There really is nothing like having very good sexy literature read to you very well. My friend Michael did me that delightful service one afternoon when he spontaneously read me some Marquis de Sade, and I have never forgotten it. I recently ran across a recording of Jeremy Irons reading an excerpt of Lolita (one of my favorite books of all time) and I almost swooned. And so, today, I share this little piece with you. Read it with someone you lust after.

The Geranium
by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

In the close covert of a grove,
By nature formed for scenes of love,
Said Susan in a lucky hour,
Observe yon sweet geranium flower;
How straight upon its stalk it stands,
And tempts our violating hands:
Whilst the soft bud as yet unspread,
Hangs down its pale declining head:
Yet, soon as it is ripe to blow,
The stems shall rise, the head shall glow.
Nature, said I, my lovely Sue,
To all her followers lends a clue;
Her simple laws themselves explain,
As links of one continued chain;
For her the mysteries of creation,
Are but works of generation:
Yon blushing, strong, triumphant flower,
Is in the crisis of its power:
But short, alas! its vigorous reign,
He sheds his seed, and drops again;
The bud that hangs in pale decay,
Feels not, as yet, the plastic ray;
Tomorrow’s sun shall bid him rise,
Then, too, he sheds his seed and dies:
But words, my love, are vain and weak,
For proof, let bright example speak;
Then straight before the wondering maid,
The tree of life I gently laid;
Observe, sweet Sue, his drooping head,
How pale, how languid, and how dead;
Yet, let the sun of thy bright eyes,
Shine but a moment, it shall rise;
Let but the dew of thy soft hand
Refresh the stem, it straight shall stand:
Already, see, it swells, it grows,
Its head is redder than the rose,
Its shrivelled fruit, of dusky hue,
Now glows, a present fit for Sue:
The balm of life each artery fills,
And in o’erflowing drops distils.
Oh me! cried Susan, what is this?
What strange tumultous throbs of bliss!
Sure, never mortal, till this hour,
Felt such emotion at a flower:
Oh, serpent! cunning to deceive,
Sure, ’tis this tree that tempted Eve;
The crimson apples hang so fair,
Alas! what woman could forbear?
Well has thou guessed, my love, I cried,
It is the tree by which she died;
The tree which could content her,
All nature, Susan, seeks the centre;
Yet, let us still, poor Eve forgive,
It’s the tree by which we live;
For lovely woman still it grows,
And in the centre only blows.
But chief for thee, it spreads its charms,
For paradise is in thy arms.–
I ceased, for nature kindly here
Began to whisper in her ear:
And lovely Sue lay softly panting,
While the geranium tree was planting.
‘Til in the heat of amorous strife,
She burst the mellow tree of life.
‘Oh, heaven!’ cried Susan, with a sigh,
‘The hour we taste–we surely die;
Strange raptures seize my fainting frame,
And all my body glows with flame;
Yet let me snatch one parting kiss
To tell my love I die with bliss:
That pleased, thy Susan yields her breath;
Oh! Who would live if this be death!’

Tuesday, October 15th 2002

A possible solution to the Columbus Day dilemma and desserts for all…
posted @ 8:50 pm in [ ]
Monday was Columbus Day. For those of us of Italian extraction, Columbus Day is a big, joyous, fun deal with happy memories that stretch back into childhood and pride in all our accomplishments as Italian Americans, made possible by the first Guinea who set piedi on this joint. For those of us who have overdeveloped social consciences, Columbus Day symbolizes the beginning of the occupation and colonization of the Americas and is nothing to celebrate. Being a Guinza with a social conscience, people ask me about this dilemma, and like most things, I don’t think it really has to be a dilemma.

A few years ago, a professor of mine suggested celebrating a different great Italian. What about DaVinci, he offered. Since then, I have been celebrating DaVinci Day as my personal festive Guinea holiday. DaVinci was unfortunately born on April 15th, or as we like to call it, *&^%$#@! Tax Day, but my taxes are always done in plenty of time to make my famous cannoli from the old-a fam’ly ray-cipi.

The secret to cannoli so good she make-a you cry is that it is not an American dessert. That is, it is not outrageously sweet, yet as a dessert, incredibly satisfying. If you go into a deli and they have something that looks like a cannoli but it’s filled with some kinda sweetened whipped cream or something, run away. It’s WRONG! People here cut corners because good cannoli is a labor of love and not all delis have time for that kind of carino. You have to trust that Italians have been making kickass sensuous dolci for millennia and just open your mind to the experience of cheese for dessert. You don’t want that thing in the case anyway, it’s-a soggi, trust mi.

Proper cannoli has two components: a shell and filling. The shell is made out of a very stiff dough with very dry vino in it that has gone through its own little spa vacation: rising, kneading, resting, rolled out really thin. Then it’s cut into squares and wrapped ever so carefully around special pastry tubes (mine are spring-loaded so I can slide the shells off them while I’m still holding the tube with tongs and not burn the bejesus out of my hands) and deep-fried for moments before being lovingly toweled off. The oil must be super-hot because the shells have to be just-a so nice, and greasy shells are yucky (Italiano: iucci). The filling is primarily ricotta cheese with a little sweetening, a little liquer, maybe some chocolate chips. My filling is especially decadent because I use more liquer and more chocolate chips than anybody in my family. I use orange liquer because next to assorted, my favorite flavor is chocolate and orange together. Mint liquer, while it sounds like it would be good, is in actuality quite iucci, but chocolate is all right. I have painstakingly experimented to determine exactly how much booze I can put in there before critical mass is reached and the fluffy filling collapses, and I know the amount almost to the molecule. I use a Cuisinart to make my filling, which is also totally decadent thing to do, and I did have a minor moral crisis about it when I first started doing it. But then I decided that Nonna Elizabeth would *definitely* have used a Cuisinart if she had one, and I went on my merry decadent way.

So you have your cooled off, light, barely crisp shells (the cooled off part is really important in avoiding getting third-degree cannoli burns and having to explain to the nice people at the emergency room what the hell a cannoli is) and your light fluffy decadent filling. You want to go ahead and stick the filling in there, don’tcha? Well, DON’T! Not unless you’re going to eat them *right now* because if you don’t, they’re going to get all soggy, and again, it’s-a iucci. Incidentally, I believe the Italian word for “soggy” is “inzuppato”, or soupish. Keep those components separate until you’re just about to enjoy them.

So all these tricky things about cannoli conspire to make it a real project, which is why I rarely undertake it more than once a year. It takes hours, but as DaVinci knew, you can’t rush art, and it’s sort of a tribute. Anyway, that’s how I handle Columbus Day: not by justifying what he did or by condemning him for doing it when he was but a product of his dark and ignorant time, but by celebrating DaVinci with sensuously edible art. Viva Italia!

Sunday, October 13th 2002

On Selecting the Lube of Your Dreams
posted @ 12:50 pm in [ - ]
A dear friend of mine recently asked me about selecting a good lubricant. Since I feel many of us may be in need of the right lubricant for the right job, I am sharing my response.

I’m terribly flattered you thought of me for your marital aid needs. Here is my treatise on lubes:

There is really nothing like a very, very good lubricant! Whether you’re a carburetor or a bicycle or a horny woman, the cheap stuff sux and the good stuff changes the whole experience. Cheap lube has crappy consistency and performs worse and worse over time as it breaks down or entertains its aspirations of becoming something else, like that splintery, powdery bubble gum you get with baseball cards. It’s like a bad waiter, always wanting to be something else and never quite adequate to the task at hand. Good lube stays nice and lubey for a long time and you hardly notice it because you’re enjoying the pleasant, smooth operation of whatever lucky piece of equipment you treated to good lube. It’s more like that professional waiter who appears in a puff of tasteful aromatic smoke, makes your perfect caesar salad on a perfectly appointed cart with a reserved smile and fades back into the ambient corners of the place until your subtle galvanic skin response summons him to your table again.

So, yes, Virginia, K-Y is very, very icky. The only thing it has going for it is that you can get it at Wal-Mart. I have two suggestions:

1. Try various household items. Canola oil is fun, butter is *really* good, anything slippery will do. I’ve heard good things about Crisco, but I’m too ethnic to keep it around. You’ll want to wash up thoroughly later is all, and keep in mind that some of these things react badly with latex, if that’s a consideration.

2. Wasn’t that fun? Okay, after that, go get some good lubricant. You will need to visit your friendly neighborhood sex shop, at least buying it for the first time, because you want to feel this stuff (bring a pocket pack of tissues). If this is just way too uncomfortable a prospect, you can probably order it over the Internet and just get stuck (so to speak) with some backup lube if you don’t like what you get. Me, I kind of like running out of lubricant, because it means a trip to my friendly neighborhood sex shop.

Most sex shops worth their batteries have quite a selection of lubricants, complete with tester bottles. Start checking them out. You’ll like this, because the claims the packaging makes are really hilarious. Drip a drop or two (that’s all you need–this is the good stuff!) onto your hand and try to rub it in. See how long it takes to get sticky between your fingers, what you like the texture of (and sure, surreptitiously lick a little of it to see if it tastes like anything–there are even flavored ones if that’s appealing to you, but for me, that gets back into bad waiter territory where I don’t think it does either job all that well, but that’s just me). Don’t worry about what the staff thinks or anything–they *work* there (they probably even get staff discounts. Hell, ask their opinion if you get stumped). Besides, that’s why there are testers. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision.

Personally, I favor the silicone-based lubes. They give a really nice thin coating that lasts longer than… it needs to, they go ANYwhere, their taste is usually imperceptible, and they don’t damage latex. Be prepared to pay about $10-$15 for 2-3 ounces, but don’t worry about it because this stuff will last a long time, even if you frequently get rabbits coming to the door to tell you that you people are freaks. These days, I’m partial to ID Millennium (it has a nice moisturizing agent that in this dry climate is quite refreshing), but again, it’s a totally personal thing. Whatever you select, try applying it with a soft pastry brush, it’s fun!

Well, whaddya think, dear reader? Should I have a weekly sex column feature? Got any questions for me? Let me know.

Saturday, October 12th 2002

Protected: On Being a Redhead
posted @ 10:38 am in [ - ]

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Wednesday, October 9th 2002

On Being a Giant Ballerina
posted @ 3:31 pm in [ ]
Today is Wednesday. My typical Wednesday schedule involves writing in the morning, going to ballet class at noon, having about an hour and a half to finish up whatever I was doing in the morning and get some lunch, and then going back to the dance studio, where I work into the evening, and then have pointe class. Consequently, I am so much more likely to have a rant about Balanchine today than on any other day.

George Balanchine was the ballet choreographer who has had the most profound impact on how the art form looks and feels today, especially with regard to its light, airy qualities of performance. He also had a Pygmalion-like fascination with some of his prima ballerinas and married several of them, I believe, although he was really quite gay. If you don’t believe me, look at the instruments he selected for his choreographies: the men are Greek gods; the women little boys.

Before Balanchine, ballet much more closely resembled its court-dancing roots, and ballerinas were shaped much more like, well, real women. After the profound effect he had on the art form, we now get what we’re used to seeing as “ballet bodies” at the ballet: that five-foot-tall, eighty-pound, curveless creature in a tutu. In the performing company I belong to, I am considered a “jazz person” (although I still learn the choreographies and look forward to the occasional character role), not because my ballet technique isn’t good enough, but because I quite simply am not built like today’s Blanachine-inspired ballerina.

This is of course okay with me. In fact, in many ways, it makes me more proud of my technique. For every inch over five feet tall you are, placement and turning get more difficult as your center of gravity gets higher and more precarious. For every incremental cup size beyond perfectly flat that you are otherwised blessed with, your sagital balance is compromised and you must be stronger to compensate. A perfectly-landed double pirouette is much more of a feat for me than it is for a dancer Balanchine might have had in mind (or married). It takes more work, more strength, better balance, better technique, more control, better placement, and everything else. In other words, I have to be a better dancer just to do the same stuff.

Also, I think I’ve taken my dancing a lot further having started it as an adult than I would have if I had taken my first classes as a child and stuck with it. At 13, I was already 5′7″ and almost spilling out of a B-cup. Had I been dancing since early childhood, I would have gone through the trauma of having to give up my dreams at a tender age simply by growing into a strong and healthy adult. As it was, I was a senior in college before I even attempted my first class, and dance has been one of the consuming passions of my adult life. It also gives me a certain measure of freedom. When I’m in pointe class and my feet hurt like I’m standing in two pink satin ribbon-festooned bear traps, I can take those suckers off and finish class in my technique shoes. It’s not like I’m 16, in a company class, and this is my big break. I’m retirement age for a ballerina, doing this for fun. Masochism is useful, but it’s not a hard and fast requirement. As an added bonus, since the growth plates in the human foot fuse in the early twenties and I didn’t begin pointe work until well after that, it is not all that likely that I will be a crippled aging dancer like those who were put on pointe as small children while their bones were soft and malleable. Okay, ballet is in many ways screwed up. But being exclusively an adult dancer makes it a lot less likely it will screw you up, and as any dancer will tell you, once your techique progresses to a certain level, it’s like flying, and totally worth all the years of hard work.

I should probably explain that pointe class is a special ballet class taken in toe shoes. You know, when you go to the ballet, and the dancers are somehow hopping around on the very tips of their toes in those noisy pink shoes. It’s a different class because it requires different technique and a lot more strength than a standard ballet technique class. After all, the human body was never meant to do that. The shoes are hard around the toes and flexible in the arch to create a steadying base, but to look pretty too, in a Balanchiney sort of way. In my shoes, standing on pointe, I am well over six feet tall, I would guess about 6′3″ or 6′4″. It’s a whole different perspective. It also pretty much guarantees that I will never perform any sort of pas de deux, as there probably isn’t a suitable partner out there, but that’s okay too. Like most women over 5′4″ or so, I’m funny about being picked up.

So why the hell did I do this to myself when I didn’t even have to? I got to be in my late 20s and realized that my best years of dance were probably still ahead of me, and I really wanted to reach for the pinnacle of technial achievement. Pointe has been a struggle, and I frequently feel like an Irish wolfhound running agility trials when I’m in class, but again, when it’s right, you feel super-human, so graceful and free that physics only loosely applies to you and gravity wafts you skyward rather than yanking you toward the floor. So although I will never be a “real” ballerina because George Balanchine was really, really gay, I still get to fly.

Take that, George.

Monday, October 7th 2002

Another rite of passage story thanks to my old man
posted @ 9:00 am in [ ]
When I was about 10 or 11, my dad sat me down to explain to me how to make my way in the world. “There are two things you need to know in order to get money when you really need it,” he said, enumerating them on his fingers. “How to write, and how to play cards.” He explained that he was going to stop giving me an allowance and instead, I would have to play Blackjack with him for his pocket change. Now, my father is a guy who has a lot of pocket change, so that seemed like a pretty good deal to me, and it was. His end-of-the-week bulging pockets were a much better haul than my allowance.

Turns out the old man was right, too. My writing skills have gotten me paychecks, fellowships, admittance to places I never thought I could go, alliances, fair hearings, friends, and more. My card-playing skills have gotten me home from places I’ve been stranded with no money, filled in the gaps when I’ve been in school and had a hard time making ends meet, allowed me to ace graduate-level statistics, and given me the added security of a little jingle in my own pocket when I’ve needed it.

But the real rite of passage was yet to come. When I was 19, my dad and I were driving cross-country from L.A. to Boston and we stopped in Vegas. He gave me $50 worth of chips, good at the hotel casino, and told me to go play the blackjack tables. “Anything under $50, give back to me, and anything over, you keep,” he said. He was actually having a pretty hard time finding a game–as it turns out, he really looks like a card counter and the dealers were leery of him. Even though I was underage, though, I was wearing a tight skirt and I got my hair a little bigger than usual (playing cards is one of the few occasions when it actually serves me pretty well that people take one look at me and assume I’m an idiot–but that’s another rant), and I had no problems finding a game.

Or winning, as it turned out. It’s one thing to beat a bunch of inexperienced, ego-coasting rich kids at poker when you need the grocery money. It’s something else to take the casino’s money, and it feels GREAT, even when the amount is pretty damned inconsequential to the casino. I got to answer to the usual Vegas pickup line, “So, you winning or losing?”: “Winning.” I even very charitably tried to coach a guy who was trying to pick me up. He was losing miserably through the worst Blackjack strategy I have ever seen, and not impressing me much, either. I mean, you do *not* split fives! That’s a 10, and given that you’re most likely to get a 10 from the deck, do you want a 20 or do you want to be stuck with two 15s?! (Sheesh!) His Blackjack dealer took me aside later and suggested I look into one of the dealer schools in town before leaving the area. He even gave me a card from his Alma Mater. Apparently dealer schools have recruiters, too. I probably still have that card around somewhere…just in case.

I gave my old man his $50 back at the end of the evening and pocketed the excess. Another proud moment in Bertoni family bonding. Thanks, dad!

Friday, October 4th 2002

Lisa’s Cavalcade of Men
posted @ 3:29 pm in [ - ]
Ladies and gentlemen, I have had a request (but I’m going to keep writing these things anyway). But seriously, in response to my enthusiastic review of Eric (the former boyfriend of Lisa’s whom you’ll recall had a butt that could make Michelangelo cry) I have been asked to enumerate and describe Lisa’s various boyfriends. Needless to say, this is an outsider’s perspective, and there were likely many single-date wonders I never even knew about. But these are the ones I remember offhand and my impressions about them.

Lisa and I met in 1988 as college freshmen. We were both commuter students, and she would listen to my rants in the Student Union (and generously named them Meg Monologues), so we knew each other, but we didn’t get to be really good friends until junior year, when she was apparently celibate by choice. This didn’t stop her from making me her personal sexual stooge, of course. When we had American Lit together, for example, she timed the whole class’ couplet-by-couplet reading of “Howl” so I would end up reading the dirtiest parts aloud, much to her satisfaction and amusement. That’s the kind of friend Lisa is.

So anyway, I think the next boyfriend she had after she stopped being celibate and we started being roommates and I started being privy to direct information about who might be lurking in her bed was Chris. He was the computer guru at the campus newspaper, where I held an editorial position. I know they broke the “no nooky in the office” rule at one point, but I don’t know when.

For me, this was just before or during the time that I call The Dry Spell of ‘92. Oh, yes, it is the stuff of legends. I spent so many late hours in the newspaper office, press releases had begun to take the place of sexual ones. The Dry Spell of ‘92 was gratefully broken by a classmate of giant Danish extraction named Charles, who had the good fortune to be coming up the stairs to the newspaper office at the same time as I was actually coming down them for once, in a particularly disconsolate moment, and to be really, really sad about a recent breakup (and also a big Todesco). I lent him a sympathetic ear, took him home and made him a sympathetic dinner, followed by a terribly sympathetic…

But this is about Lisa’s Cavalcade of Men, not mine. Anyway, Chris was sort of slight but wiry, with a tringular face like a cat’s. He had cycled across the U.S. and apparently had thighs of steel, but to me he seemed like if he were just a little more brittle, he’d be pretty breakable, like resin. Also, he seemed to be perpetually chapped. He was nerdy and nitpicky and the more time I spent with him, the more I had the desire to be drunk in his presence just to deal with it. But basically, he was a very sweet guy, especially in small doses. Lisa only told me two things about their intimate life: that he was “relentless”, and that he had suggested soy sauce as a lubricant, which had really put her off. He complimented my lipstick once–I think it was a metallic gold color with a darker lipliner for an interesting effect (hey, it was the early ’90s). In that same conversation, we agreed that Lisa was a good kisser and he almost fainted from the implications. It was by far the most interesting conversation I ever had with him. My recollection is that the relationship ended when he spent so little time with her that she quipped that she saw her mailman more than she saw him. To which he replied something like, a guy could take that a couple of different ways. Shortly after their breakup, he left the country or something. I have no idea what has become of him, but I hope that thing with him being perpetually chapped didn’t cause him to disintegrate entirely.

Then there was Eric. I would add only one thing to my description, which was that he was a great help in a piece of empirical research Lisa and I were conducting. The theory was that a man’s obsession with gadgets was inversely proportionate to the size of his wonkus. When Eric couldn’t even work the stereo, Lisa and I did this sort of slow burn to look at each other before she broke into a giant grin. I won’t tell you what the nickname he received that night was, but that’s how he got it. Anyway, as I mentioned, I believe he became a freak and went away.

I think it was around this time that a former boyfriend attempted to come back to roost, and I *think* his name was Silas. I met him once for an afternoon before Lisa gave him the old heave-ho. He was pretty handsome, about six feet tall, dark hair, dark eyes, and sort of quiet. He had some sort of giant white car that I think he inherited from his father. I remember Lisa telling me that they had gone into Chinatown for lunch (at that time, Chinatown bordered on the combat zone) and when this young whitebread dude got out of this big white Town Car or whatever it was, he looked just like The Man. What I remember best about him was when we were all in the grocery store and he made a visual joke about brussel sprouts being minaturized manufactured cabbages, which I found hysterical. Hey, produce is not as easy material as you’d think. Aside from that, my general impression of him was that he was really, really crazy, in an obsessive, Lifetime Network Four-hour-movie-of-the-week kind of way. Lisa got rid of his ass, I didn’t hear how.

I think Rob was next. Rob was a roommate of Phillip’s, my then-boyfriend. He was a very sweet guy, and he cooked extremely well and was a professional masseur when he wasn’t cooking or engaging in some sort of personal exploration and improvement. He was quite attractive, over six feet, beautifully put together as if he had been assembled from some kind of a kit, hazel eyes, brown hair, great smile. I would occasionally come home to find him making chocolate all over my kitchen, which was a nice benefit to me, and I believe he occasionally left Irish soda bread in Lisa’s car. All in all, a great boyfriend package. I think he even brought flowers and little gifties on a fairly regular basis. And, as I said, a good heart. Bless that heart, though, he was as dumb as a sack of hammers. I don’t actually know why they broke up, but I suspect it had something to do with that. They stayed friends for a long time, and I believe he is now happily married to a nice German lady, and has a few kids, which is good. He was nicest to Lisa of all the pre-Evan Cavalcade I can remember, and that gives him quite a few points in my estimation. Plus there was that part where he would be all in chocolate-covered clothes plastered to that kit-body. You know how it’s really hard not to bite the ears off the chocolate bunny? Yeah. It was like that.

Somewhere around here, I remmber Lisa having a string of really terrible dates. She went out with a dropout-classmate of mine from Harvard whom I think was baked and weird the whole time and had some kind of aversion to telling her his last name. She also went to the movies with some guy, who, in an attempt to be sexy, bit her lip so hard she dropped her popcorn. All in all, a total waste of Lisa’s intermittent leg-shaving.

Next, I think Lisa took up with the boyfriend I refer to as Stalkin’ Steve. Stalkin’ Steve was a pretty interesting guy on the face of it. He was a Jewish vegetarian from Kentucky, in his early 50s, with a bigass car we called The Ark. He was intially very solicitous of Lisa, and nice to me, and I think she entertained moving in with him to get away from Kat and Lew, who were pretty much the Hostile Couple Roommates from Hell at that point. Steve also cooked and even had a convection oven. The problem was, though, that Stalkin’ Steve was in reality just a very sophisticated weirdo. Apparently, he saw Lisa as some kind of potential trophy wife. Nice that he valued her, but ewww… When Lisa began to realize just how freaky Stalkin’ Steve was, she attempted to shake him loose, but apparently he didn’t believe in unilateral breakups and was quite certain they were still together, even if she was acting rather strangely. Although he was sort of a little skinny guy, I understand Dennis Franz is going to be playing him in the Lifetime Four-hour-movie-of-the-week.

I believe that brings us to Evan, Lisa’s wonderful husband. By comparison, Evan would really not have to be all that terrific to be the romantic rock star male lead of Lisa’s life, and in this sense, he has overshot by miles. Initially, I had relatively few impressions of him because he is very shy and getting to know him requires some effort. I still don’t know him as well as I’d like to, but I know enough to write a little open fan mail. First off, Evan is one of a handful of Welsh-Italians I know that I’m not related to, which to my mind gives us an instant affinity, and he is so deeply, sweetly, and passionately in love with Lisa it makes me happy just to be around them. He is medium height, medium build, and has lovely dark soulful eyes and a sort of charming thoughtful pout when he’s ruminating about something. He has one of the sweetest, most joyful smiles I’ve ever seen, and he’s a very affectionate, cuddly guy once you get to know him. Best of all, he’s brilliant and hilarious. I figured it out, and he makes me laugh out loud an average of once every 11 minutes when I get to hang out with him. Some significant others, particularly spouses, of my friends, they’re like marionettes or something: once the girlfriend goes away, they sort of slump lifeless in the corner and all their strings go slack, and you have absolutely nothing in common with them. But Evan is one of the few spouses of friends of mine that I would choose to hang out with even by himself. He’s just a really nifty person I never would have gotten to know if it weren’t for Lisa. I sure can’t say that about any other member of the Cavalcade. Best of all, though, he appreciates Lisa for the uniquely nifty and quirky creature she is, and that really makes me happy.

Anyway, I’d like to point out that the maximum number of relationships we get in a lifetime that work out is ONE. I’m delighted that Lisa found her handsome prince after all those freakin’ frogs.