*LET ME HEAR YOUR BAR TALK

About an hour later, the gorgeous Multi-cam Maven came back. She had wavy brown hair and killer smile, and she was a magnet for unwanted come-ons. This time, she was having an issue with a lanky boy and asked me to intervene. It seemed logical to pick someone of comparable beauty to distract him. There were others in the group that were more beautiful and alluring, but she picked ME. I was flattered. This simple request was another instance among many that helped restore the confidence Comicbook Crook took.

_________________________________________________________________________

In the fall of our senior year, SuperFoods introduced me to her group. They adopted me and Mutli-cam Maven, who was also a friend of SuperFoods. In the spring, I lost SuperFoods to the West Coast, where she was doing her semester “abroad” in our school’s Los Angeles program. The group continued the bi-weekly excursions, while I stuck to one night of dancing.

Kells EXT

Senior Year. It was my Freedom Year. I was no longer tied to Comicbook Crook and I was enjoying the single life. In the fall, I was introduced to Sissy K’s. We never went to the bar; we were always on the second floor, dancing at the club. It wasn’t just a fallback club; it was the club of choice. Every now and then, members of our tiny group persuaded the rest of us to go to places like The Kells, an Irish bar out in Allston with two levels of dancing. (The Kells had more a frat-boy-jock culture with mediocre music. I was not a fan.) We also tried a mixed ages club in Faneuil Hall, but it felt like everyone was in their 30s-40s, married and trying to reclaim their youth. Given we were still in college, even someone 5 years older seemed old. I realize now how ridiculous this is, especially since when I’m out dancing, I don’t care what those college kids think.

The memory of SuperFoods having to rescue me from the gargantuan man was still at the forefront of my mind. The Kells and the mixed-ages bar were not my favorite places, but they helped scrub that memory. Despite the bad experience, my love for Sissy K’s was undying. It had the best Top 40 dance music and a fun crowd. Besides, I had started wearing a fake engagement ring; it felt like I had protective shield around me.  If somebody started getting handsey, I’d point to the ring, smile and say, “My fiancé is okay with me going out dancing with my friends, he just wants me to be respectful.” Looking back on it, I can’t believe this seemed acceptable. Would I be okay dating a man that prohibits me from doing certain things? Certainly not, but, this was reasonable to a 22 year old me, and it was less confrontational than, “Get away from me I don’t want to talk/dance/have a drink with you.” Since then, I’ve refined my avoidance tactics…

  1. If my group isn’t close, find a group of women and dance with them.
  2. Tell him, “I’m going to go dance over there. Don’t come with me.”
  3. And a favorite, “I’m waiting for my boyfriend; he’s in the bathroom.”Sissy K's Dancing

During one trip to Sissy K’s I was dancing with this mini dude. I was in heals (which maybe made me 5’1″) and I was as tall as him. He reminded me of this short guy from my freshman year Tae Kwon Do class, who thought it was okay to pick me up and carry me like a doll. (What is it with men needing to do this?) Needless to say between this memory and my recent experience, I was on edge. When Mini Dude got handsey, he received  my long-winded explanation about the fake engagement ring. He stopped trying to grope me. When the song was over, I didn’t even say bye; I just danced over to my friends.

I stayed with the core group; about an hour later, the gorgeous Multi-cam Maven came back. She had wavy brown hair and killer smile, and she was a magnet for unwanted come-ons. This time, she was having an issue with a lanky boy and asked me to intervene. It seemed logical to pick someone of comparable beauty to distract him. There were others in the group that were more beautiful and alluring, but she picked ME. I was flattered. This simple request was another instance among many that helped restore the confidence Comicbook Crook took. More than anything, I was happy to protect my friend. I danced and talked with the lanky boy; he never touched me. When the song was over I excused myself to return to my friends that were on the other side of the room. All of a sudden Mini Dude bounded in and was throwing punches. The crowd swarmed.

A taller person shoved me back, blocking me from my friends.

Where are the bouncers?

I was scared. I couldn’t see my friends and I was worried I was going to get trampled. When the bouncers finally got there and broke up the fight, my friends and I found each other. One was laughing. She turned to the group beaming, “See, I was right; it was Sarah.”

I was sheepish. “What are you talking about? Men don’t fight over a friend’s wing-woman. That’s all I am.” Nobody listened to my argument.

Mini-Dude and his alcohol-fueled small dog syndrome ruined the evening of dancing. We went home. On the way, we stopped at the Convenience store inside the dorm and picked up supplies for salsa con queso. We spent the rest of the night in, eating and watching a movie.

Even though salsa con queso was our food of choice, I do not have a bad association with it. In general, salsa con queso was a staple food among us. We’d eat it from a jar and when time allowed, we made it from scratch. We were aware of the calories, but didn’t particularly care. Besides, when you’re in your early twenties staying up late eating and waking up early to go work it off isn’t a big deal. More than anything, salsa con queso was a way for us to hang out. Unlike cake or donuts, you can’t take a plate of it back to your room and hide.

I’m judicious with how often I make this stuff now, but I stick to the dorm recipe.

Salsa con Queso

INGREDIENTS
1 12 oz. jar favorite chunky salsa. (We preferred Ortega medium.)
1 16 oz. pkg. Velveeta cheese cut in to cubes.
Tortilla chips

STEP-BY-STEP DIRECTIONS

Microwave-Queso-Dip

Microwave:
1. In 1 ½ quart microwavable bowl, heat salsa and cheese at medium for 7 to 9 minutes.

2. Stir every minute or so until cheese melts and is well blended.

3. Serve with chips.
I now, prefer stop top because I have greater control over the heat.

Stove Top:
In saucepan, over medium-low heat, heat salsa and cheese, stirring constantly until cheese melts and is well blended.

MUCHO GUSTO (It’s nice to meet you)

I started senior year of college mainly feeling adrift. This lasted several months and was in large part due to spending so much time with Comicbook Crook the previous year. This resulted in a rift between many friends and me. I did manage to maintain TV production friendships, and like camp I was forced to be more outgoing. I could do this for meetings, but being inherently shy, I had to step into a more gregarious version of the camp me for social situations. Comicbook Crook had done a great job providing recorded criticism, so being a more confident me was not as easy as it sounds. Nonetheless, the modicum of confidence I had, enabled me to talk with my crushes.

There was the Canadian in my Public Relations class. . .
. . . and the tall one in my comedy class with the email: AmishDanceBeats
Then, there was the one from the TV studios. I loved that he knew the etymology of the ¾ inch tape. (It was ¾ inches wide.)

(This list sounds more glamorous when read in a Audrey Hepburn/Julia Ormond Sabrina voice. Further, I still can’t believe I was enamored with etymology of the ¾ inch tape.)

All these guys could potentially be THE ONE. And, because of this potential future they all possessed, even with my shaky inner monologue, I was feeling pretty good.

It was a crisp October afternoon, when I was walking through Boston Common to my Public Relations class on Comm Ave. I was rockin’ the L.L. Bean backpack/dark glasses look. I loved the class, plus I was going to see the cute Canadian (who I had yet to figure out was gay because he hadn’t shown me pictures of his ex-boyfriend).

boston_common Fall

I was in a rush.

Someone was talking over my shoulder, but this is a city, people are always talking.

The voice kept talking.

I was in my own world.

Oh, he’s talking to me!

I turned to the voice.

Wow. Latin American. He’s super cute.  

His English wasn’t so good, but we managed. He introduced himself as Guapo and commented how pretty I was.

Yay! 

He told me that he doesn’t make it to the city often and needed directions to get back to the Orange Line. (I rarely took the Orange Line and was flummoxed that he thought I was pretty. I gave him directions, but I’m not sure how accurate they were.) Then it hit, me, if he thinks I’m pretty now, what if I took my glasses off and showed him my green eyes! I’ve received many complements on them, so I lowered my dark glasses and flased a smile.

We set up a dinner date for Friday at California Pizza Kitchen. It was convenient for me and I still thought he lived close by.

We sat in the crowded restaurant, staring at our menus and made small talk.

Very small talk.

I don’t remember his English being this poor.

In my rudimentary conversational Spanish, I learned he was originally from El Salvador and moved to Somerville, MA with his mom, grandma and sisters.

The waitress came by. She gave her waitress spiel. Guapo gave her blank stare. Clearly, he didn’t understand. I translated in my crude Connecticut high school Spanish and continued to interpret between the two for the remainder of the evening. We eventually ordered our personal pizzas. He got barbeque chicken and I ordered their Mexican Pizza. (Hey, I was trying to be inclusive. This was the closest thing they had to El Salvadorian food. I’d later learn more “traditional” Mexican pizzas resemble a flat taco.)
Mexican Flag

Despite our difficulty to have intellectually riveting conversation, the date wasn’t completely bad. Mainly, I was excited I had a date with someone who actually liked the way I looked rather than pointing out my imperfections the way my rapist did. We made plans to see each other again.

Our second date Guapo came over to watch a movie. My shared suite had a common room, but we opted for more privacy. I took Guapo into my bedroom to watch 10 Things I Hate About You.

10-things-i-hate-about-you

I love Romantic-Comedies s and really wanted to see how Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew was adapted to film. I spent more time fending off advances than watching the movie. The kissing was okay, but between his grabbyness and his tongue ring, it too much for my inexperience. As we got closer, I felt something I had never felt before.

One of his front teeth was outlined with gold!

I guess it’s a cultural thing. 

Friends have since corrected me, “No, it’s a player thing.”

For a number of years I blamed myself for Guapo mauling me, rationalizing, “I guess some people take ‘watch a movie’ as a euphemism for ‘get busy.’” Now, I’d just say he is an asshole.

That afternoon, I was way in over my head. When I realized Guapo’s motives, I should’ve escorted him out of the dorm immediately, but being polite and naïve, I wasn’t sure how to navigate this. I wanted everything to stop. I hated the situation I was in and did the best I could to readjust my expectations of him and add barriers to prevent sex.

Somewhere in the middle of the movie, I heard the suite door open. SuperFoods said hello to an empty room and I eagerly ran to greet her. Guapo followed. The three of us talked for a bit. I’m sure she could tell my discomfort. I pointed out it was late, I needed to do school work and SuperFoods and I had dinner plans that night. I walked Guapo downstairs and signed him out.

When I came back, SuperFoods asked what I was doing with Guapo. Growing up in a city and with more experience of reading people, she probably saw the predatory aspect that I didn’t see. My parents taught my sister and me to love everyone. And I believed everyone deserved a chance at love. Somewhere, I forgot the caveat, “don’t give love to a loser.”

That afternoon was the last time I saw Guapo and I was glad for it. The next time he came to the city and tried to make plans with me, I was busy. I think I was washing my hair.

MEXICAN PIZZA
As I prepared the meal, I realized that this was likely the inspiration for another culturally insensitive meal, “Latin Fusion Pasta.

INGREDIENTS
Favorite pre-made cheese pizza
½ medium green bell pepper  (chopped in large pieces)
½ medium red bell pepper (chopped in large pieces)
¼ medium sweet white onion (chopped in large pieces)
½ cup mozzarella
2 Tablespoons tequila
Couple springs Cilantro  (chopped)

Ingredients Best

STEP-BY-STEP DIRECTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven according to package directions.
  2. On a low heat, heat oil in a cast-iron skillet. Add onion.
  3. Cook onion about one minute.
  4. Add peppers. Another two minutes. (You want them still almost raw.)
    Veggies
  5. Add tequila. Stir rapidly. Remove from heat (take it off the burner).
  6. Grab pizza from the freezer, remove from packaging and put on pizza stone or cookie sheet.
  7. With your favorite kitchen spoon, spoon peppers and tequila on top of pizza.
  8. Spread evenly.
  9. Top with mozzarella.
  10. Cook for allotted time packaging recommends.
  11. While pizza is cooking cut up cilantro using kitchen scissors.

**Ideally, you would add cilantro as soon as the pizza comes out of the oven so it sinks into the cheese. Cilantro is a divisive herb. (Some people think it taste like soap.) If you’re unsure of your guests, put the cilantro in a separate dish, and let them add it themselves.

Mexican Pizza

MEXICAN PIZZA: Red, white and green, like the Mexican flag AND it has tequila! (A close fascimile to what I had at CPK.) Yes, I realize the racism.

*BEDROOM EYES QUESADILLA

I never told Comicbook Crook I went dancing with Bedroom Eyes. Perhaps, I felt a little guilty, like I was cheating. My love of BRE and what we shared on the dance floor may have even prolonged the relationship with Comicbook Crook. BRE was certainly giving me some of the safe emotional and physical connection I needed… the kind would be standard in a relationship.
__________________________________________________________________

My college had a student body that was mostly women. The popular statistic was that women out-numbered men 3:1. With that ratio, dating was tough. But, to compound dating woes, allegedly, 65% of those men were gay. I’m not sure of the validity of the statement, but it seemed accurate.

The school paper even substantiated the statistics with a comic…
Frame One: Snaggle Tooth boy-troll wearing an I LOVE COMICS shirt.
Frame Two: Buxom hot girl.
Frame Three: Snaggle Tooth sees girl. Caption: How to pick up a girl at our college.
Frame Four: Snaggle Tooth, “I’m straight.”
Frame Five: Hot girl whisks Snaggle Tooth away.

I laughed. This wasn’t a little bemused laugh. It was a laugh that welled up from my belly and crossed my lips before I remembered who was sitting across from me.
Comicbook Crook was not amused.

He wasn’t bad looking, he just wasn’t going to win a beauty pageant. At any other college, he’d have a date or two… maybe. But, here, he was one of the few straight men. I was just one in a laundry list of women Comicbook Crook dated. I got to meet all his exes, even the one that broke up with him one month before he and I met. Part of me was happy to be part of the list. In some twisted way it validated my insecurity- I was somehow desirous. (Again, at this point, I didn’t realize that our first date started with date rape.)

Today I wouldn’t put up with his quirks, but part of being good at dating is ending something that doesn’t work. With my inexperience, I wasn’t good at dating…

…yet.

It’s not real life, but I was hoping that with love he would be the man I needed. I had invested considerable emotional energy, but the rose-colored glasses were slipping off. Me laughing at the comic was just a symptom of my growing discontent.

My three summers of working at camp helped me find my voice and undo the negativity that “friends” from junior high and high school heaped on. Camp had a compounding affect:  It taught me to confidently stand within myself and while doing so I gained more confidence. But, even with jokes, camaraderie and safe flirting, there were certain lines you didn’t cross… It was church camp after all.

3-7-14 Hubble Chapple Cross

I crossed those lines with Bedroom Eyes. There was no sex; he was one the 65%. We danced. We danced our asses off. (Yes, I know I’m quoting Footloose.) During my junior year, it became our Monday night tradition to go to Axis on Lansdowne Street. Monday night was “Gay Night.” Looking back on it now, it seems funny to have a bar with a theme of “Gay Night” where they proclaim they’re LBGTQ friendly. But this 2000/2001; Boston and America were still changing.

My first dance with BRE was awkward.

Dance - 1 Awkward

Awkward in the sense that he was a boy. Prior to him, the most I had done with a boy, dancing wise, was the HS shuffle with a friend. I had never danced a fast dance with a boy. He pulled me close. I moved with him as best I could. But, even with my years in Band and understanding the rhythm of music, I didn’t have experiencing moving my body to that rhythm. He pulled me closer. Hips gyrating. His hands on my ass.

I better do something.

Dance - 2 Gettin w it

The moment when you figure out how to dance at a club…

I put my hands on his bicep. I didn’t want to be in his personal space. Besides, even though I wasn’t a virgin, I was quite virginal in my mind and practical experiencing. Putting my hand on his bicep was non-threatening and the best I could do at the time.

I looked around and saw how other people were dancing and decided I better do something more… I put my hands on his chest. He didn’t recoil. We just got more in sync. It was completely fluid and absolutely freeing. I felt sexy. This was safe sexy dancing. Then, I learned a key component to BRE’s sexy dancing— It’s all in the eyes. His big, beautiful, deep and penetrating Bedroom Eyes. I felt one dancing with him. Forget Sabrina, I had the post Patrick Swayze Baby attitude. Nobody’s going to put me in a corner!

D Dancing - Baby Working It

I never told Comicbook Crook I went dancing with Bedroom Eyes. Perhaps, I felt a little guilty, like I was cheating. My love of BRE and what we shared on the dance floor may have even prolonged the relationship with Comicbook Crook. BRE was certainly giving me some of the safe emotional and physical connection I needed. Combined with the flirting and safe sexy dancing, my shaky confidence was becoming stable and even blossomed.

BRE and I didn’t even need alcohol to loosen us up to dance, it just happened once we walked through the doors. With the pulse of the music and everyone moving we fell into the momentum of dance.

In April the school had a big end of year dance where the leadership within the school clubs was handed down to the successor(s) for the next school year. It was a lot like prom. This time, I didn’t have to take a camp friend. I took Comicbook Crook and was excited to show off my moves. We both wore black and looked super slick. There was dinner, speeches and then it was time to dance! I’ve always loved dancing and now I had moves I could use. Comicbook Crook didn’t want to dance. I found Bedroom Eyes. I was a dancing machine, a monster. I owned myself. I loved dancing with BRE.

But, I didn’t go to the dance with him, I wanted to dance with my man.

Dancing Machine

It took some effort, but I was able to coax Comicbook Crook to the dance floor. He wasn’t thrilled, but slowly, he relaxed. Then there was a slow song. Easy stuff— Hold each other close and shuffle your feet. A fast song came back on. We stayed close.

Then I did what the music commanded me to do, which was walk backwards and beckon him to come get me. It was a cute move and I thought he’d walk forward to chase me. Instead, he had a bona fide temper tantrum. He needed a formula and pre-determined steps.

Why can’t he just go with the flow and dance with me?

Again, I had to console him. He was ruining my very first dance I had a boyfriend for.

I know I was stiff my first time, but at least I tried. I expected him to do the same. It was part of his job as my boyfriend to make me happy. I had reasons to stay with him, but coming up with new reasons to stay was becoming harder and harder to do. The big reason for not breaking up was boiling down to:

I don’t want to hurt his feelings.

But, the months of childish behavior, stealing, not eating crust and not letting me be me were adding up. This tantrum was put into my column of “reasons to break up.”

QUESADILLAS

Bedroom Eyes and I would often grab some food before a night of dancing… it was simply practical. On his side of campus they served diner-like food. Everything was loaded with starch, which would be good for sustained energy on the dance floor. Quesadillas have it all. While the traditional quesadilla is made with flour tortillas, really any kind of tortilla works.

INGREDIENTS
Guerrero Tortillas
Cheddar or Tex Mex Cheese
Pickled jalapeños

For the sides:
Sour Cream
Pace Salsa

 

Quesadilla Ingredients

Layer 1

Don’t be like some of the cooks at my school and scrimp on jalapeños like the one on the left.

STEP BY STEP DIRECTIONS
Preheat toaster oven or oven to 375F.
On a tray lay out your tortilla and put the cheese and jalapeños.
Add more Cheese.
Cover with another tortilla.

Bake 10 minutes.
Quesadilla Baked - Done

Slice to desired size.
Serve with sour cream and salsa.
Quesadilla Presentation
TIP:
While putting the oven to toast for the last couple minutes is tempting, it will make your quesadilla to crispy and it will fall apart when you cut it.